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(iJl^Caker of the <J)(Cicrophone 
Frederic William Wile 

<iAuthor tf 

Men Around the Kaiser 
The Aliault, Explaining the Britishers, Etc. 








By Ta£ Bobbs-Mbbbill Coufant 


Printed in tht United States of America 






** whether their ancestors came over in 
the Mayflower three centuries ago, or 
in the steerage three years ago" . . . 

— Calvin Coolidge, at Omaha, October 6, 1925 



To Clara Louise Leslie, whose researches in the 
storehouse of Emile Berliner's papers, books and 
memories paved the way to the construction of this 
narrative, the author's acknowledgments are here 
rendered. Her enthusiasm and zeal were incessant 
sources of helpfulness^. F. W. W. 


Me^ Wile's book is one of those wonder stories of 
perennial fascination, the story of the life of an in- 
ventive genius, with its struggles, its devotion and 
persistence, and its ultimate success. To make this 
story even more interesting, its hero, still alive and 
active, has crowned his material success by the cap- 
stone of a wise and notable philanthrophy. And he 
illustrates in his life, as does that great scientist 
Michael Pupin, the Serbian "immigrant to inven- 
tor," in his, the successful taking advantage of 
America's proverbial opportunity for any youth of 
brains and industry, from anywhere in the world, 
to rise to greatness. The German immigrant boy, 
Emile Berliner, has become one of America's most 
useful citizens. 

But Berliner's contributions to science are not 
restricted in their beneficence or in their origin to 
America alone. There are no national boundaries 
to science. Every nation in the world has contrib- 
uted to the notable advance of scientific invention, 
which is the basis of modern civilization. So much is 
the development of those ideas the handiwork of the 
men of every nation, that it is almost impossible to 
assign to any particular nation the whole credit for 
any one of our great industrial tools or for any one 


of the great scientific hypotlieses by which we con- 
duct so much of our historical life. 

Great minds have arisen in every nation who 
have grasped the work of the past and made it 
contribute to the progress of the present. These 
great discoveries, these great inventions, and these 
great tools which humanity now has at its command 
have come to us from a thousand sources. They are 
the cumulated result of constant improvement upon 
the work of those who have gone before. 

The vast populations which the world supports 
to-day, the high standards of living and comfort 
with which we are surrounded, are directly due to 
scientific discovery. It was science that prevented 
the disaster Malthus predicted as the result of the 
pressure of the population upon subsistence, for it 
is science that has increased the productivity of 
man. A score of men can live in comfort now where 
only one lived in poverty a hundred years ago. 

Discoveries in science are rarely news. There 
is usually but little about them that is sensational, 
and they are often intricate and difficult to compre- 
hend. But the public should understand that if we 
would maintain the continued advance of our mate- 
rial, and to a considerable degree our spiritual life, 
we must recognize and support scientific research. 
Such research has great material values, but it also 
has, and even more importantly, values of high 
moral and spiritual character. The unfolding of 
beauty, the aspiration to knowledge, the ever widen- 


ing penetration into the unknown, the discovery of 
truth, and, finally, as Huxley says, ''the inculcation 
of veracity of thought," are all of them ample rea- 
sons why all good citizens should be interested in 
the progress of science — and in the careers of men 
like Emile Berliner. 

/^j^ u.'^y^^w'^^^^*^ 


Fbom the melting-pot which is the modern 
United States there has emerged an amalgam which 
is peculiarly American — an aristocracy of inventive 
genius. Its members have illumined the progress of 
mankind for as many years as the Republic has life. 
Their achievements, indeed, are the milestones 
which mark America's advance toward her present 
eminence in the domains of culture, science and the 
economic arts. 

In the veins of American inventors the bloods 
of many races have been fused. Some of them, like 
Franklin, Fulton, Morse, Howe, Edison, McCormick, 
Westinghouse and the Wrights, were products of 
our OA^Ti soil, though many were the direct offspring 
of Transatlantic progenitors. From that same 
Old- World stock has come to us a contingent of 
European native-born, which, nurtured in the 
pioneering atmosphere of the New World, has made 
rich contributions to the development not only of 
American civilization, but of the human race. From 
Scotland came Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of 
the telephone. Germany sent us Charles Proteus 
Steinmetz, electrician. From Greek loins sprang 
another gifted electrician, Nikola Tesla. Hungary 


bequeathed America a Serbian cattleherd, Michael 
Idvorsky Pupin, who is to-day a luminary in the 
firmament of physics and electro-magnetics. To 
John Ericsson, of Sweden, builder of the Monitor, 
America has just reared a monument on the banks 
of the Potomac. 

A contemporary peer both of many of these 
American-born and European-bom arbiters of the 
modern universe is the man around whose career 
of scientific accomplishment and philanthropic zeal 
this biographical narrative revolves. 

It is the story of Emile Berliner, servant of 

It is the story of an immigrant boy who became 
a man with a billion contacts throughout the world. 

It is the story of the telephone, the microphone 
and the gramophone. 

It is the story of one who wrought so wondrously 
that civilized mankind, defying space, spans con- 
tinents and oceans by word of mouth. 

It is the story of a dreamer whose crude toyings 
with a soap-box eventuated in a mechanism that en- 
ables the President of the United States at will to 
commune through the air with tens of millions of his 

It is the story of him who etched the human 
voice and taught the plowboy to whistle grand 

It is the story of a practical idealist who is mak- 
ing child life safer, surer and sweeter. 


It is above all the story of the illimitable possi- 
bilities of America for the youth in whom the divine 
spark flickers, no matter how lowly or how alien his 

Emile Berliner's story is the story of the micro- 
phone, without which neither modern telephony nor 
its companion in magic, radio broadcasting, would 
have been possible. It is the story of the indestruc- 
tible "lateral cut" disk record which brings Caruso 
and GaUi-Curci, and John McCormack and phil- 
harmonic orchestras, into the humblest home. It 
is the story of the movement which led to the general 
pasteurization of milk through the adoption of 
government standards. 

It is the story of a restlessly active spirit in the 
endless kingdom of the unexplored, a spirit whom 
age seems powerless to curb, for, at seventy-five, 
Emile Berliner is still discovering and inventing. 
The diamond jubilee of his fruitful life "witnessed the 
addition of "acoustic tiles" to the scroll of his con- 
structive works. His extraordinary vision and 
unusual aural sense are unimpaired; his physical 
powers and genial nature, of pristine buoyancy. It 
would be a rash prophet who would predict that 
Emile Berliner is an extinct volcano. From that 
Vesu\'ius the world is entitled to expect yet other 

This "Life" is essentially the chronicle of a 
hero of peace unsung and unheralded. That the 
story of Emile Berliner is a closed book to the 


large majority of his fellow- Americans is evi- 
dence that self-effacement is not altogether a lost 
art in our Age of Advertisement. 

The year 1926 marks the Fiftieth Anniversary 
of Bell's invention of the telephone. It is appropri- 
ate that the golden jubilee of that boon to human 
progress should see tardy justice done to the one 
who contributed effectively to its perfection. 

F. W. W, 
Washington, B. C, 
July 1, 1926. 



I Boyhood in Germany 1 

II To THE Land of Dreams 13 

III The Making of an American ... 20 

IV A Rolling Stone 31 

V The Spirit of 1876 42 

VI Conception of the Telephone ... 51 

VII Birth op the Telephone .... 58 

VIII Berliner Sets to Work 67 

IX From Soap-Box to Microphone ... 79 
X Berliner Files His Caveat .... 88 
XI The Continuous Current Transformer 94 
/^ XII Berliner Joins the Bell Company . . 102 
-^ XIII Berliner Completes the Telephone . 118 
XIV The Telephone Fights for Its Life . 133 
XV The United States Versus Emilb Ber- 
liner 140 

XVI The Vindication of Emile Berliner . 148 

XVII Berliner Takes the Transmitter to 

Europe . . . ..... 155 

XVIII Holding Communion With Immortality 168 

XIX Birth of the Talking Machine . . . 175 

XX Berliner Invents the Gramophone . 183 

XXI Etching the Human Voice .... 193 

XXII Germany Welcomes the Gramophone . 202 

XXIII The World Set to Music 217 

XXIV Berliner's Contribution to Public 

Health 234 

XXV Berliner and Radio 251 

XXVI Emile Berliner To-day , .... 272 



XXVII An Inventor's Human Side .... 287 
XXVIII Berlinee Peers into the Future . . 297 


I Berliner's Caveat Describing the Micro- 
phone 309 

II Final Development of the Blake Trans- 
mitter . » . 314 

III A Tribute to Emile Berliner . . . 320 

IV A Specimen of Berliner's ** Health 

Education" Bulletins . « . . 323 

V The Scientific Side of Music . » . . 328 

yi Wonders v « « . r « v -r * 333 

Index < ^ y. e -• >: s ^^ x • 339 


Emile Berliner Frontispiece 

Facing page 
Berliner's Playground When a Boy in Hanover 14 
Mr. Berliner's Mother and Father ... 15 
Telegram Sent on Emile Berliner's Arrival in 

the United States 38 

Mr. Berliner in 1872 38 

Store in Washington ^Tiere Mr. Berliner 

Clerked 39 

First Bell Telephone, June, 1875 .... 70 
BeU's Magneto System, 1876 .... 70 
Bell's Magneto Telephone, 1877 .... 71 
Bell's Magneto Telephone System in 1877 . . 71 

Microphone of March 4, 1877 98 

Microphone of Berliner's Caveat, April 14, 1877 98 

Bell-Berliner System 99 

Berliner's Battery System 99 

Letter from Telephone Company of New York 
Introducing Emile Berliner to the Bell 

Group 126 

Letter from Mr. Hubbard . . •., :. . 127 
Gardiner Greene Hubbard in 1876 . . . 127 
Letter from Theodore N. Vail .... 156 

Theodore N. Vail 156 

James J. Storrow, Gugliemo Marconi, Alex- 
ander Graham Bell, Major-General George 
0. Squire 157 


Facing Page 
First Disk Talking Machine (Gramophone) . 180 
Gramophone Sound Tracings, Gramophone Re- 
producer, Gramophone Recorder . . . 181 
Laboratory Force of Emile Berliner in 1888 . 210 

1485 Columbia Road 211 

Professor Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von 
Helmholtz, Doctor Ernest C. Schroeder, 
Henrich Hertz, Honorable Herbert C. 

Hoover 242 

Letter from Hermann von Helmholtz . . . 243 
Radio Central of the Radio Corporation of 

America on Long Island 268 

Elliott Cresson Gold Medal 269 

Mr. Berliner in Front of Microphone at WRC 

Broadcasting Station 290 

Mr. Berliner among Children of Public Health 
Class 291 





IMTO that Germany which gave Emile Berliner 
birth on May 20, 1851, the cult of militarism had 
come, but not conquered. Men were goose-stepped, 
but the Mailed Fist was not enthroned. Germany 
for the most part was what Lord Palmerston called 
*'that damned land of professors." 

Liberalism and learning were in the air. The 
revolution of 1848 had just been w^aged. The Ger- 
man people were taking to heart the admonition of 
Fichte, the philosopher, who, in his Addresses to 
the Nation following the Napoleonic humiliation, 
admonished his countrjTnen to "replace what they 
had lost in physical resources by moral strength." 
The University of Berlin, founded by Fichte, vou 
Humboldt and Schleiermacher in 1813, was in the 
heyday of its consecrated mission — the inculcation 
of the doctrine that public education is the true basis 
of national greatness. 

The flower of German industrial might was bud- 



ding. It "vvas in 1S51 — the year of Emile Berliner's 
birth — that Alfred Knipp, an obscure Rhenish steel- 
maker of Essen, electrified the manufacturing uni- 
verse by exhibiting at the great Crystal Palace Ex- 
hibition in London an ingot of steel weighing two 
and one-half tons. Germany stood on the threshold 
of a new birth, destined within a generation to be 
perverted to the purposes of an insensate imperial- 

In the west of Germany nestled the independent 
and peaceful little Kingdom of Hanover, pawn of 
Prussian, French and English dynasties throughout 
an embattled century. Successively an electorate 
and a kingdom, and chiefly composed of territories 
which once belonged to the dukes of Brunswick, 
Hanover was finally erected into a sovereign realm 
in 181-i, after "VTaterloo. George V, son of Ernest 
Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, ascended the throne 
as King of Hanover during the year in which Emile 
Berliner was bom. 

The capital city bore the Kingdom's own name. 
The Hanover in which Emile first glimpsed the light 
was a placid community of winding streets, grim 
castles, quaint buildings, and Gemi'dliliclikeit, It 
had its court, its garrison, its Anglicized aristoc- 
racy, its rather exclusive culture, which included 
an especially pure t^'pe of German speech for which 
Hanover is famous to this day, and an Institute of 
Technology that was a center of German engineer- 
ing progress. 


Sir "William Herschel, ''who pierced the barriers 
of Heaven" with his telescopes, was a native son of 
Hanover. Three or four years before Emile Ber- 
liner was bom there, another Hannoveraner came to 
earth, who was doomed to strike terror to the hearts 
of men as Berliner was destined to gladden them. 
His name was Paul von Hindenburg. How vastly 
different became the chosen paths of these two boys 
of Hanover, both still alive, and on active service, 
though septuagenarians! Hindenburg selected the 
field of Mars as his life avocation and strewed it, 
before he quit it, baffled and broken, with more of 
human misery and devastation than war had ever 
caused before. Berliner was marked for better 
things. That Divinity which shapes our ends or- 
dained that man-ennobling, not man-killing, works 
should tax his ingenious energies. 

To Samuel Berliner, a small Hanover merchant, 
and his good wife, Sarah Fridman Berliner, there 
was born a t^-pically large German family of eleven 
children. They inhabited a floor of a humble four- 
story stone building, of which Hanover's bended 
streets contained many equally inconspicuous. 
Emile was the fourth child. From his father, a 
Talmudic scholar of deeply religious fervor, Emile 
inherited a sense of logic and a respect for biblical 
teaching. From his mother, a daughter of Cux- 
haven, where the Elbe empties into the sea, the boy 
subconsciously imbibed a wistful longing for the 
fuller life that beckoned from across the Atlantic^ 


Through the city of Hanover the River Leine threads 
its lazy course. On one of its bridges Emile Ber- 
liner often would stand in soliloquy, watching the 
softly rippling current as if crystal-gazing into a 
beyond he hoped some day to encounter at close 

The province of Hanover had far too stirring 
a military history to be devoid of martial pride. 
The older generation of its menfolk, in Emile Ber- 
liner's youth, consisted of those whose fathers had 
marched with Bliicher to overwhelm Napoleon. 
Theirs were memories and traditions not easily 
forsaken. One of Emile 's school-teachers, a hot- 
blooded patriot, celebrated his own birthday each 
year by dispensing with class work and devoting the 
day to a perfer\id glorification of the Battle of 
Waterloo. "Look at those Hanoverians!" ex- 
claimed Bonaparte, observing their irresistible ad- 
vance, as the schoolmaster of Hanover depicted it. 
*'You must grow up to be like those soldiers!" the 
teacher would thunder at his awe-struck class. 

For one whole week of every year Hanover gave 
itself over to the dehghts and glories of the Schiit- 
zenfest (sharpshooters' festival), a survival of me- 
dieval glory. The city donned gala attire. At sun- 
up, before the door of every burgher who was a 
member of the Scluitzenverein, there would be a rat- 
tle of drums to waken him. Soon after da^^i Hanover 
was alive "\\'ith riflemen, hilariously ready for the 
great event of each day — a parade to the shooting 


range in the meadows on the fringe of the city. 
There all day long and into the night the populace 
would sing and romp and eat and drink, turning a 
nominally military affair into what it really was — a 
merrymaking carnival. At the end of the week, fol- 
lowing daily contests in markmanship, the cham- 
pion sharpshooters was crowned sch'dtzenlidnig 
(king of sharpshooters), and he remained hero of 
Hanover till a rival robbed him of his laurels a year 

King George of Hanover was blind, but insisted 
upon all the spectacular honors that were his royal 
prerogative, though he could only hear, and not see, 
them. He and his Queen were greatly beloved by 
the Hanoverian people. The road to their Schloss 
was a noble highway along which, for the length of 
a mile, four giant rows of linden trees separated the 
thoroughfare into different divisions of travel. On 
"King's birthday" there was general holiday and 
a great to-do in Hanover. Shops and houses were 
gaily illuminated. There was much eating and even 
more drinking. The troops turned out in gala ac- 
couterments. Emile Berliner, like the other young- 
sters of Hanover, was unfailingly impressed by the 
gorgeous mounted band, that was uniformed in shin- 
ing silver armor and led the King's bodyguard of 
prancing cavalry. Hanover was famed for its fine 
horses. The pick of its breeds was always pre- 
served for the King's bandsmen and guard. All 
Hanoverians swelled with pride whenever they told 


that the six tawny-colored horses that drew Queen 
Victoria's royal carriage on state occasions in Lon- 
don were Hanover-bred. 

The blind King 's affliction was a boon to the peo- 
ple, in that it developed in him a great fondness for 
music, of which the Hanoverians became the bene- 
ficiaries. Each year the King contributed a gener- 
ous sum from his personal fortune so that the citi- 
zens of Hanover might enjoy the best music at the 
Royal Opera for almost next to nothing. 

Since time immemorial German towns and cities, 
even small communities, have prided themselves 
upon their fine city or state theaters and opera- 
houses. In the case of Residenzstadt (royal capi- 
tal) like Hanover, these buildings are veiy beautiful. 
Emile Berliner's youthful mind was vastly im- 
pressed by the architectural splendor of the Han- 
over Opernliaus, and particularly by its gorgeous 
frescoed curtain depicting the Sun God, Apollo, 
mounting his chariot for the sunrise. 

When Napoleon humbled Prussia after the battle 
of Jena, he looted the country of many of its choice 
works of art. Among the things he carted off to the 
Louvre in Paris was the Hanover opera-house cur- 
tain. After Waterloo, the French were despoiled 
of their ill-gotten gains, and Apollo was restored 
to his original place in Hanover. There he still 

One of those who availed herself liberally and 
regularly of the opportunities afforded by the Han- 


over royal opera was Sarah. Berliner, mother of 
Emile. As that child of the Elbe passed on to her 
son a longing for life oversea, so she instilled in him 
a love for music. Asked to-day to name his boyhood 
hobby, Emile Berliner invariably responds: ''A 
craze for music. " It must have been the mainspring 
of his inspiration to invent the gramophone. At 
boarding school, Emile used to eavesdrop outside 
the rooms of wealthier boys who could afford piano 
lessons and hum the pieces they practised. A fond- 
ness for classical music abides with him. 

Hanover pursued the even tenor of its way, a 
prosperous province of nearly two million souls, 
but as Emile Berliner entered upon his 'teens the 
rumble of battle echoed menacingly across the fron- 
tier from Prussia. Bismarck was embarking upon 
his trilogy of wars that were to unify Germany into 
a military empire and launch her upon the aggres- 
sive career of a Weltmacht. In 1864 Denmark was 
assaulted and humbled, and her fair provinces of 
Schleswig and Holstein annexed to Prussia. In 
1866, Austria was earmarked for attack. King 
George of Hanover decided to align his fortunes 
with Austria, whereupon the Prussians entered and 
occupied Hanover. The Hanoverians fought 
bravely, as their forebears did at Waterloo, and de- 
feated the Prussians at Langensalza, but two daj's 
later the tide of battle turned against them and 
King George's men were compelled to surrender. 
That was on June 29, 1866. Three months after- 


ward Bismarck annexed Hanover to Prussia over 
the futile protest the blind King addressed to 
Europe. Thenceforward George V and his house 
were exiles on the hospitable soil of Austria. 

Emile Berliner had finished a four-year course 
at a boarding-chool in Wolfenbiittel, a town about 
two hours from Hanover by rail, a year before these 
fateful events transpired. The Prussian invasion 
photographed itself indelibly upon his young mind. 
It recalled itself vividly in 1914 when, in common 
with many Americans of German origin, Berliner 
was horrified by the invasion of Belgium, though 
the Prussians of 1866 had not hacked their way 
through Hanover. 

Emile was clerking in a dry goods store when the 
Uhlans came to his native city. First there were 
but three of them, mounted and carrying a flag of 
truce. They were the advance guard sent to ask 
the burgomaster of Hanover whether there would 
be resistance to the Prussian troops standing in 
force on the outskirts of the capital. Berliner saw 
the Uhlans clattering through the street, each brand- 
ishing a pistol, for they evidently feared attack. 

Hanover was in no position to defend itself, so 
the Uhlans took back word fo their commander that 
the city could be occupied without danger of a fight. 
Then the Prussians poured in. Troops were quar- 
tered in the building where Emile worked. It was 
a peaceful occupation. But it sowed the seeds of a 
hatred that endures in the older generation of Han- 


overian breasts to this day. It was not until forty- 
seven years later, in consequence of one of those 
strokes of matrimonial statecraft by which kings 
and queens patch up international differences, that 
the old house of Hanover, the Cumberlands, con- 
sented to have anything to do with the Hohenzol- 
lerns. On May 24, 1913, the young Duke Ernest 
August of Brunswick, *'heir to the Hanoverian 
throne," was married to Princess Victoria Louise 
of Prussia, only daughter of the haughty German 
Emperor. There was love-feasting and burying of 
the hatchet at the Royal Castle of Berlin — the 
author of this book was present — but the Hanover- 
ians will never forget that it was overbearing Prus- 
sia ^hat humiliated and dethroned their beloved 
blind king and his gracious consort and on Septem- 
ber 20, 1866, of painful memory, snuffed out the 
old kingdom of Hanover and incorporated it within 
the territory of Prussia. If departed monarchs ever 
turn in their royal graves for joy, the old blind King 
of Hanover must have had his moment of vengeful 
rejoicing when William II, last of the Hohen- 
zoUerns, ignominiously fled his throne and his coun- 
try in the ides of November, 1918. 

Emile Berliner was one of thirty-five boy stu- 
dents at the Samsonschule in Wolfenbiittel. He was 
graduated in 1865 at the age of fourteen and has 
never been to school since. The grounding he re- 
ceived there, as was the invariable rule in German 
primary schools, was exceedingly thorough, 


He was a good, though not a particularly bril- 
liant pupil. His Ahgangs-Zeugniss (final report), 
reveals that he received * ' excellents " for de- 
portment, industry, application, orderliness and 
Bible history, but only "very goods," the second 
highest marks, for history, geography, reading, Ger- 
man, French, singing and gymnastics. Evidently 
Emile had either small talent for or slight interest 
in natural history or English, for he scored only 
** goods" in those branches after four years under 
Herr Schuldirektor Doctor Ehrenberg at Wolfen- 

In two classes young Berliner was highly pro- 
ficient — drawing and penmanship. He was by far 
the best draftsman in the Samsonschule. His free- 
hand copies of drawings were almost lithographic. 
His handwriting is still of the ornate Spencerian 
type that was considered a great accomplishment 
in those days. On the occasion of Emile 's annual 
visits to his home in Hanover, during his four years 
at Wolfenbiittel, he would exhibit with deep pride 
a set of uncommonly neat copy-books. They are 
still preserved by him and are proofs of an indus- 
trious, if not an illustrious, school career. 

Emile Berliner's life as a breadwinner was now 
upon him. His parents were hard put to it to 
provide adequately for their extensive brood of 
youngsters. Emile, it was decided, must shift for 
himself. He found work as a printer's devil in a 
job-printing establishment. It required him to be 


up and doing winter mornings before daylight and 
to break the ice in the basin before he could wash 
his face and hands. By seven o'clock, following 
a crust and coffee, he had swept out the printery, 
and tidied up the type-fonts and hand-presses for 
a new day's grind. At nine o'clock he was sent out 
to buy the workmen's ziveites Fruhstuch (second 
breakfast) of beer, cheese and rye bread. Ten 
months as a printer's devil without pay except ex- 
perience were to Emile 's credit when he determined 
that the printing trade was not to his liking. He 
had learned some t5T)esetting, but was tired of work- 
ing for nothing, and found himself a job as clerk 
in a dry-goods store. 

Now a lad of sixteen, Berliner's mind for the 
first time turned to the inventive. It was the day- 
by-day handling of bolts of colored fabric that first 
brought it out. He became interested in the methods 
by which textiles might be woven. In his free hours 
at home he evolved a weaving machine. It was, of 
course, not an original idea. But as far as Emile 
was concerned, it was an invention. Experts pro- 
nounced its principle technically correct and ex- 
pressed astonishment that an adolescent youth, un- 
aided and without technical equipment, could have 
devised so practical a mechanism. They told Sam- 
uel and Sarah Berliner that their boy Emile was 
ein genialer Kerl — a clever fellow. 

Young Berliner plodded on, an industrious, seri- 
ous-minded, receptive, observant and rather reticent 


youth. German lads did not go in for sports in the 
'sixties. G>TQnastics represented the first and last 
word in games. Emile derived his chief pleasure 
from reading. Night-time, snuggled down into his 
feather bed beneath a red and black patchwork quilt 
and by the light of a kerosene lamp, he was accus- 
tomed to devour Robinson Crusoe and The Last of 
the Mohicans. The wind whipping across the attic 
roof immediately above him gave frequent reality 
to the romantic tales which have fired the imagi- 
nations of boys in so many lands. Of those 
two stories of adventure Emile seemed never to 
tire. He read them dozens of times, and knew whole 
passages by heart. Probably without his realizing 
it, Defoe and Fenimore Cooper between them 
played a subtly vital part, with their classic nar- 
ratives of self-reliance in new lands, in preparing 
Emile Berliner for the eventful life about to open 
up for him, in a distant climei 



FROM the moment the ''Forty-Eighters," the 
militant Germans of whom Carl Schurz is the 
most famous, began their great exodus to the United 
States after the revolution against Prussian autoc- 
racy, the eyes of young Germany turned with ever 
increasing longing toward the New World. Be- 
tween 1860 and 1870 there poured in from the 
Fatherland, a stream of immigrants that was limited 
only by the capacity of steamships to bring them 
across the Atlantic. Sturdy Germans, whose 
progenitors were pioneers on American soil along 
vnth English, Scottish, Irish and Dutch settlers as 
long ago as the seventeenth century, leavened our 
citizenship everywhere. 

By 1861 they were already so large in number 
and so impregnated with American ideals that whole 
"German regiments" were formed for service in the 
Union Army during the Civil War. General Franjz 
Sigel commanded a brigade of men who were al- 
most exclusively of Teutonic birth. Carl Schurz 
was one of Sigel 's leaders. Missouri, in the tragic 
hours of secession, wavered for a while between 



loyalty to the Union and sympathy with the Confed- 
eracy. It was due in no small degree to its numer- 
ous German- American element that the great bor- 
der state was saved for the cause that Abraham 
Lincoln espoused. Carl Schurz lived in Missouri 
and afterward represented his state in the United 
States Senate from 1869 to 1875. 

Thoughts and dreams of America — das Land der 
unhegrensten Moglichheiten (the land of unlimited 
possibilities), as it came to be called in more modem 
times — now were flitting through Emile Berliner's 
head. Like all young Hanoverians, he loathed 
Prussian militarism, under whose boot-heel the 
independence .of his native land lay crushed. Den- 
mark had been bullied, beaten and despoiled of her 
fairest provinces. Imperial Austria, as the price 
of annihilating defeat at Koniggratz, was cowed 
into the ignominy of a Prussian vassal. The Ger- 
man Confederation having been annulled, the North 
German Confederation had been set up under the 
spurred and helmeted supremacy of Prussia. Han- 
over, Hesse-Cassel, Nassau, Frankfort and other 
provinces were deprived of their sovereignty and 
herded like sheep into the Prussian realm. Bis- 
marck ruled at Berlin, drunk with power and suc- 
cessive triumphs in the fields of war and statecraft. 
Such was the depressing vision that loomed be- 
fore the eyes of upgrowing Germans in the years 
of Emile Berliner's budding manhood. It was not 
a vista to stir the imagination of a lad in whom the 

Berliner 's I'lavurouxd AVhex a Boy in Haxovek 



fires of constructive achievement were, subcon- 
sciously, aglow and so soon to be kindled into a 

The alumnus of Wolfenbiittel, now in his nine- 
teenth year and eking out a drab existence as a 
dry-goods clerk, first had his day-dreaming 
turned concretely toward the Golden West by 
the return to Hanover of an old family friend. Na- 
than Gotthelf had emigrated to the United States 
many years before and was now a small, though 
prosperous, merchant in Washington, D. C. Gott- 
helf came back to Germany in 1869, to visit his na- 
tive haunts and spread the gospel of the El Dorado 
that awaited exploration and conquest everywhere 
in ''free America." 

His story fascinated Emile Berliner. The youth 
determined that if parental consent could be ob- 
tained, he would cross the Atlantic at the earliest 
possible moment. It was not long afterward that in 
one of the humble homes of Hanover a group of 
wide-eyed youths, consumed with envy of the good 
fortune about to overtake their most enterprising 
comrade, gathered around a table laden all over its 
checkered cloth with potato-pancakes, rye bread, 
Swiss cheese and beer. In the midst of his com- 
panions sat Emile Berliner, hero of the occasion. 
It was an Ahschiedsfeier (farewell party) in his 
honor. He was about to take the long, long leap 
and seek his fortune overseas. 

Nathan Gotthelf promised to give Emile work in 


the little dry-goods store on Seventh Street, Wash- 
ington, immediately upon the lad's arrival in Amer- 
ica. It would be a modest beginning, but it was an 
assured one, and amid friends. The Berliner fam- 
ily council had consented, and now Emile was to 
join the adventuring throng that was turning its 
back on militarized Germany. It would be an in- 
structive thing if some day it could be ascertained, 
in measurable terms, what nineteenth-century Ger- 
many might have become if so many of her intrepid 
young spirits had not been driven away by the de- 
pressing influence of the Prussian goose-step. 

Emile Berliner was of military age when he 
elected to become an Amerikaner. Bismarck, Molt- 
ke, Roon and the puppet King of Prussia, soon to 
be the self -consecrated Kaiser Wilhelm ''the 
Great," were busily making their battle toilet for 
Prussia's next war of conquest — the contest with 
France. Young Berliner had passed with flying 
colors the examination for the Einjdhrige-Freiwill- 
ige (one-year volunteer) term in the Prussian 
Army. Under this system, in vogue until the out- 
break of the World War, a young German was ab- 
solved from the onerous obligations of three, later 
two, consecutive years of service in barracks dur- 
ing early manhood. All lads of adequate mental 
equipment and of even moderately well-to-do fam- 
ily took the Einjdhrige-Freiwillige examination. It 
was a certificate of exceptional culture. 

Although the authorities were keeping minute 


tab on every ounce of Prussian military resources, 
for the war with France was to break forth in all 
its fury within a few months, April 27, 1870, found 
Emile Berliner unmolestedly preparing to shake the 
dust of Germany from his feet. He was now on the 
threshold of his nineteenth birthday. It was a tear- 
ful farewell he took of his parents, brothers, sisters 
and cronies. His father he was never to see again. 
Upon his head the devoted mother, Sarah Berliner, 
laid a hand that betokened unuttered prayers for 
Emile 's spiritual salvation and material welfare in 
the land of his impending adoption. The lad's heart 
was heavier than he cared to show before kith and 
kin. He was face to face with an incalculable future. 
Emotion subdued all inclination to elation, though 
inwardly Emile thirsted for the new experiences 
that were beckoning to him in the great republic 
across three thousand miles of salt water. 

A depressing mist was falling as Emile stepped, 
baggage laden, from the old-fashioned train that 
brought him from Hanover to Hamburg. The famous 
Elbe port had not become the mighty world harbor 
into which the genius of Albert Ballin was destined 
to convert it, but the argosies of the Hamburg- 
Amerikanische Paketfahrt-Aktien-Gesellschaft al- 
ready traversed the seven seas, and from the same 
far-flung waters came to Hamburg the ships of all 
the nations. "My Field is the "World" has been the 
*'Hapag's" official motto since the Hamburg- Amer- 
ican line's foundation. That might have been the 


slogan on Emile's coat-of-arms, too, had the Ber- 
liners boasted a family crest, for the intrepid young 
Hanoverian who was setting out for new land that 
day in April, 1870, was himself destined to girdle 
the globe, though in other ways than Hamburg's 

Emile, who had never seen ocean ships or 
sniffed the air of the sea, was deeply impressed 
by the forest of masts that always dominates the 
perspective in Hamburg. He speedily found his 
bearings. He was electrified by the consciousness 
that with every step America was growing nearer. 
The realization made his crude baggage seem lighter 
as he trudged for endless cobblestoned blocks har- 
borward and to the water's edge. 

At the Hamburg-American line wharves an im- 
mense hustle and bustle raged. Great hulks of 
longshoremen, men reared to the hardy trade of the 
sea — Germans, Frisians, Helgolanders, Dutchmen, 
Danes, Swedes, Norwegians — worked like beavers 
loading and unloading cargo from vessels moored 
to the docks in a line longer than the eye could fol- 
low. Wharves were not of steel and concrete in 
those days, and through the gaping cracks of the 
unhewn floors of the docks where he was now 
arrived, Emile could see and hear the water of the 
Elbe splashing and swishing against the piles, and 
feel those timber pinions swaying now and then as 
the water gurgled in with a bit of a surge. The 
whole scene filled the Hanoverian emigrant boy, 


land-lubber as be was, with a solemn wonder. 
But it was athrob with life — the life into which he 
felt he was about to plunge — so wonder melted 
speedily into enthusiasm, and he became conscious 
of a leaping anxiety to clamber aboard his ship of 

There she was, tied to the dock, far down the 
row of barges and cargo boats crunching at the pier, 
and standing forth a queen among her ignobler 
sister craft, for she was the Eammonia and bore the 
proud name of the patron goddess of the Free Han- 
seatic City of Hamburg. From her black and red 
smokestack smoke floated lazily, indicating that the 
H ammonia's, furnaces were alight and her boilers 
ready to propel her on still another transatlantic 

The Eammonia glowed before Emile Berliner's 
enraptured gaze the embodiment of all his boyhood 
dreams of a great ship. Brass rails agleam — spot- 
less cleanliness — ship-shapeness all about. The 
Eammonia was not the liner de luxe of this ostenta- 
tious age. But she was a Leviathan of her time, 
and, of course, in Emile 's eyes, a miracle ship. He 
mounted the gangplank that led into the second 
cabin, and Germany was bereft of a genius. 



OCEAN greyhounds in the 'seventies had only 
the speed of bulldogs, and needed just as 
much tenacity. They plowed the Atlantic between 
Hamburg and New York laboriously in weeks, not 
days, and the Hammonia, with Emile Berliner 
aboard, required for her voyage exactly a fortnight. 
It was a stormy crossing. Second-cabin accom- 
modations fifty-five years ago were inferior to 
steerage facilities to-day. Humble as were Emile 's 
home comforts, he missed them sadly. 

He and his shipmates had everything in common. 
Like himself, they were about to become prospectors 
in the gold-fields of Opportunity. Their days and 
nights aboard ship were weird and wonderful hours 
of speculation and anticipation. Some of the 
Hammonia' s emigrant cargo were more fortunate 
than young Berliner. They had flesh and blood 
awaiting them in America, and homes into which the 
new arrivals would be welcomed, literally, as 
brothers, sisters, sons or daughters. Parents were 
aboard, too, bound for loving firesides established 
by pioneering and subsequently fortunate offspring 



in American town or country. Emile's lot was to 
be cast among friends. But beyond that lay a 
vacuum. He was of stout heart. The answer to a 
question once leveled at him by this chronicler is 
significant. *'"What was your chief emotion as a 
poor German boy about to be put dowoi, a complete 
stranger, on United States soil?" Quoth Berliner: 
** Anxiety to know how long it would take me to be- 
come a thorough American I ' ' 

The Goddess of Liberty was not enlightening the 
world in the days when the Hammonia slipped into 
New York harbor. Nor was there that ultra- 
modern institution, the immigration quota. Amer- 
ica in those halcyon times welcomed to her capacious 
bosom the oppressed, the ambitious, the liberty-lov- 
ing of all climes, regardless of whether they were 
Nordics, Latins or Orientals. Our industries were 
not even infant industries; they were little more 
than in the conception stage. The illimitable 
wealth of our mines and agricultural fields had not 
been scratched. Railroads were in the chrysalis 
phase. The clamor was for unskilled labor to hasten 
the colossal economic development on the verge 
of which the giant republic trembled. Europe was 
the bottomless well from which the United States 
proceeded eagerly to draw its human supplies. On 
they came — in torrents — in the 'seventies, and the 
'eighties, and the 'nineties, and in the early decades 
of the new century, till we became a satiated, and, 
as some of our detractors aver, a selfish, folk, bar- 


ring our gates and proclaiming that America was 
no longer an asylum. Tempora mutantur, nos et 
mutamur in illis,. .■ . . 

Apollo, the Sun God, whose allegorical splendor 
as reflected on the great Hanover opera-house 
curtain is one of Emile's indelible memories, 
was holding watch and ward over him, for the 
Jersey coast was bathed in golden sunshine as Ber- 
liner's ship docked at Hoboken. The young emi- 
grant's English vocabulary was primitive, and he 
was happy to be met by a New York acquaintance 
of his Washington benefactor. Unfamiliarity •with 
a strange country's language is an appalling and a 
depressing thing. He who is responsible for this 
record endured that experience in Berliner's native 
land of Germany, though under immensely less dis- 
advantageous conditions than those Emile now 
faced. Men j^earn at such times for Volapuk or 
some other universal medium more effective than 
the sign language. 

Emile was awed by the bigness of New York, 
although there were no Woolworth Towers then, 
nor Brooklyn bridges, nor subways, nor even cable 
cars. The horse was still king. Ferry-boats are 
the only survivors of the Gotham that Berliner first 
knew — Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence. He 
expressed a desire to reach Washington as soon as 
possible. So, after half a day of itinerant sight- 
seeing, he was put on the train for the capital, as 
green as the Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware 


grass he was soon to inspect from his first American 
car-window. To Washington, the telegraph carried 
the following terse warning of an impending event : 

New York, May 11, 1870 
Messrs. Gotthelf, Behrend and Co., 
818 Seventh Street, 
Washington, D. C. 

Berliner will start most likely to-night or to- 
morrow morning. 

Jacob Davidson 

Berliner has lived to put so much of sunshine 
into the dark places of the world that one is often 
constrained to think his inspiration came from the 
weather conditions that first greeted him here. His 
most vivid impressions of early hours and days in 
America are recollections of super-abundant sun- 
shine. He had come out of North Germany, which 
has its moments of sunshine, but its sieges of gray, 
damp, bleak and cheerless atmosphere. In his first 
letter to his parents — foreign postage in 1870 was 
forty cents the half ounce — Emile mentioned the con- 
stant sunlight as one of America's principal char- 
acteristics. No doubt it lifted up his soul in his 
occasional spells of homesickness or other depres- 
sion. He thought it accounted for the omnipresent 
optimism in the American nature. 

It was to the sordid Washington of reconstruc- 
tion days that Emile Berliner came on May 12, 1870. 
The first presidency of General Ulysses S. Grant was 
in its tempestuous midst. It was the era of the 


carpetbaggers. The South, still bleeding and sullen, 
failed to find in Grant, the president, the generous 
conqueror who declined Lee's sword at Appomattox. 
''At Appomattox," says David Saville Muzzey, his- 
tory mentor of so many thousands of American 
schoolboys, "Grant had been noble. Yet as Presi- 
dent he upheld the disgraceful negro governments 
of the Reconstruction Act, and constantly furnished 
troops to keep the carpetbag and scalawag officials 
in power in the South, in order to provide Republi- 
can votes for congressmen and presidential elec- 

Not only were Reconstruction methods keeping 
open the Civil War wounds of the South, but politi- 
cal corruption everywhere was rife. Muzzey 
teaches that 

"Probably the tone of public morality was never 
so low in all of our country's history, before or 
since, as it was in the years of Grant's Administra- 
tion (1869-1877), although a more honest President 
never sat in the White House. Large contracts for 
supplies of food, clothing, ammunition and equip- 
ment had to be filled on short notice. Men grew 
rich on fraudulent deeds. Our state legislatures 
and municipal governments fell into the hands of 
corrupt 'rings.' Corruption reached the highest 
offices of state. Grant's secretary of war, William 
W. Belknap, resigned in order to escape impeach- 
ment for sharing the graft from the dishonest man- 
agement of army posts in the West. The Presi- 
dent's private secretary, Babcock, was implicated 
in frauds which robbed the government of its rev- 
enue tax on whisky. Western stage-coach lines, in 
league with corrupt post-office officials, made false 


returns of the amount of business done along their 
routes, and secured large appropriations from 
Congress for carrying the mails. Members of Con- 
gress so far lost their sense of official propriety as 
to accept large amounts of railroad stock as 
'presents' from men who wanted legislative favors 
for their roads." 

That was the America which Emile Berliner 
was first to know. It is probably a blessing that 
neither his knowledge of the English language nor 
his predilections permitted him to become contami- 
nated by the atmosphere in which he found himself 
at Washington, else it might have turned the young 
German idealist in disgust from the America which 
had tempted him away from native heath. 

Emile set diligently about the task he con- 
sidered to be paramount — to make himself *'a 
good American" with the least possible delay. The 
conquest of our language became his first objective. 
He listened to it intently in the Gotthelf store. He 
read Hawthorne and Longfellow. He studied the 
Quarterly Reviews of England in the old Y. M. C. A. 
reading-rooms at Ninth and D Streets, not far from 
his place of work in Washington. His literary bent 
was in the direction of the serious. He worshiped 
indiscriminately in churches of all denominations, in 
order to hear eloquent sermons and accustom his 
ear to good English. At his place of employment 
some of the wrapping-paper consisted of surplus 
copies of the Congressional Record, then printed 
and sold by a private firm, Statesmen in the Eecon- 


struction era were as loquacious as they are to-day. 
The Congressional Record was correspondingly 
bulky. Emile took copies regularly to his lodgings 
and from them imbibed a familiarity with the ora- 
torical style of those florid days. 

Having lived to see Washington ''the city of 
magnificent distances," and having himself become 
one of its important property-owners, Emile Ber- 
liner is fond of comparing the national capital of 
to-day with the Wasliington of the Grant era. Then 
it was an overgrown, unkempt community of sixty 
thousand, giving small promise of conversion into 
the splendid world metropolis which, despite the 
continuing excrescence of Pennsylvania Avenue, it 
is to-day. When John Hay came to Washington as 
an assistant private secretary to President Lincoln, 
he wrote : 

"Warsaw (Illinois) dull? It shines before my 
eyes like a social paradise compared Avith this miser- 
able sprawling village, which imagines itself a city 
because it is wicked, as a boy thinks he is a man 
when he smokes and swears. I wish I could by wish- 
ing find myself in Warsaw. ' ' 

Berliner's early Washington was a town of 
horse-cars as the sole means of public transporta- 
tion. The gorgeous barouche and pair was the 
limousine of the day. Colored coachmen and foot- 
men were the quintessence of elegance. Gas was the 
most luxurious form of illumination, and farmers 
coming to city hotels occasionally blew it out and 


were asphyxiated. Washington had no sewage or 
filtration of water. At meals Potomac River water 
was served in china pitchers so that those about to 
reduce the invisible supply of microbes might not be 
able to detect their presence in the muddy yellow 
fluid. The city was full of typhoid and malaria. 
There were no shade trees, such as now make the 
great avenues of the capital uniquely lovely, except 
in the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution and 
the Soldiers' Home. To both of those parks people 
would flee for relief from the heat of the equatorial 
climate of the District of Columbia. Rock Creek 
Park did not yet exist, except as a wilderness. 

Gaunt telegraph poles, from which wires inter- 
laced the streets in all directions, accentuated the 
city's crude exterior. Italian organ-grinders, A\dth 
their dancing monkeys, were popular attractions. 
Their canned music consisted mostly of Civil War 
songs like Marching Through Georgia and Captain 
Jinks, for the martial spirit w^as still abroad through 
Washington and the North. As fervently was Dixie 
sung and played throughout the seemingly irrecon- 
cilable South. 

President Grant, short, stocky and democratic, 
was a familiar figure on Pennsylvania Avenue in the 
afternoons, as he took his constitutional, hands 
clasped behind his back, unfailingly accompanied by 
his cigar, and minus guards of any kind. Through 
the windows of the swagger hotels of the capital, 
now ramshackle survivors of their ancient glory, 


lazy politicians in whiskers and wide-brimmed hats 
stretched their legs by the hour, as they discussed 
the state of the Union amid contests in long-distance 
tobacco-spitting across the littered sidewalks of 
*Hhe Avenue." 

Now and then cattle would be driven through or 
across that dilapidated boulevard of state. On the 
southern side of the nation's Via Triumphalis 
coursed a murky canal along which scows were 
tediously towed. Emile Berliner thought of Hanover 
and other well-kept cities in Germany, with their 
civic pride and cleanliness and love of architectural 
beauty, and found it difficult to reconcile the cobble- 
stones, brick pavements and general primitiveness 
of Washington with his preconception of the capital 
of great America. 

The Americanization of Emile Berliner set in 
with a change in the spelling of his given name. At 
birth he was christened * ' Emil, ' ' but he had been in 
Washington only a few weeks when he decided to 
refurbish it into ''Emile," adding the final "e" as 
an Anglo-Saxon touch. He thought it would mate- 
rially fortify his morale in the de-Prussianizing 
process in which he now was sturdily immersed. 
Berliner has always been zealously watchful that 
nobody, particularly since the World War, in ad- 
dressing him or referring to him in print, shall 
forget that the spelling of his name is the Anglo- 
Saxon Emile, and not the German Emil. One of the 
considerations that impelled him to make the change 


was the marked contrast he found in America in the 
treatment of yomig men. Here, he soon discovered, 
they were treated as equals. In Prussia-Germany, 
elders and superiors looked down upon them in a 
spirit of military hauteur. 

To our whimsical national habits, weird and 
strange to the newcomer, Berliner steadily adjusted 
liimself in Washington. An Italian street-corner 
vender taught him how to eat peanuts and ba- 
nanas — arts then unknowai to a German boy. Ice- 
cream soda became another early accomplishment, 
thanks to the ministrations of a friendly draggist 
who mixed his own sirups and produced concoctions 
that passed comprehension. Emile became espe- 
cially fond of a mixture of coffee-sirup and choco- 
late, which he himself designed in a spirit of bibulous 
adventure. It eventually became popular with many 
patrons of the drug-store as ''half-and-half." Ber- 
liner calls it one of his first inventions. 

Three years had passed, and Emile Berliner, 
now at man's estate, began to think of his future. 
He had no definite plans regarding it. His time in 
the United States thus far had been assiduously 
devoted to the earning of his living, the learning of 
English and the absorption of American ideas. In 
all three of those directions he made substantial 
progress, except with regard to a livelihood. That 
he had earned, and little more. He found time to 
take up the study of music. Now and then he 
thought music might become his profession. He 


knew such a life would delight the mother he had left 
behind in Hanover. Emile took some lessons in both 
piano and violin, and still plays both of those instru- 
ments. But he played by ear only. It is his strange 
sort of eyesight that kept him from becoming a sight 
reader of music. *'I have an unusual kind of 
vision," he explains. ''If my attention is called to 
one person in a group of people, I see no one else in 
the group. This is the reason I never went further 
in music, I couldn't see notes ahead in groups." 
Berliner's gray brown eyes are almost pierc- 
ing — not intimidating in their effect, as such eyes 
often are, but kindly, and endowed with an intense 
power of concentration. To-day, at seventy-five, 
before Berliner begins to read, he takes off his 
glasses. He appears to wear them principally 
for decorative effect. They are nose-glasses and 
dangle most of the time from the black cord which 
anchors them to his person. He suffers from slight 
near-sightedness, but has not needed a change of 
lenses for twenty-five years. For close work, his 
eyes still serve him better unaided. They seem to 
have been given him to look keenly and fruitfully 
into the future. 



EMILE BERLINER had lived in the United 
States long enough at the end of three years to 
imbibe the American spirit of adventure. He had 
conquered our language; absorbed the habits of 
young men of his age, including a predilection to 
better himself; and longed for fields of conquest 
other than the drab District of Columbia. National 
activities, in a financial and mercantile sense, were 
centered in New York City almost exclusively. To 
achieve fame and fortune in the metropolis was the 
goal of every ambitious American youth. They were 
the times that fired Horatio A. Alger with inspira- 
tion for the Oliver Optic stories — when virtue in 
Broadway was still its own reward. 

The year in which Berliner decided to pull up 
stakes in Washington and tempt fate in New York 
was a period of unparalleled crash and smash in 
business America. A fainter heart than that which 
beat beneath the bosom of the young Hanoverian 
would have preferred the dull certainty of life along 
the Potomac to the atmosphere of devastation and 
depression which prevailed on the Hudson. 



Between 1869 and 1873 railroad building pro- 
ceeded at a feverish rate in the United States. Some 
twenty-four thousand miles of lines, or more than 
three times as many as were built during the pre- 
ceding four years, were constructed. Business was 
at the high tide of prosperity. But in its wake there 
ensued an orgy of wild speculation, wide-spread ex- 
tension of credit and inflated values. The bubble 
burst with tragic and annihilating suddenness. The 
great banking house of Jay Cooke went to the wall — 
an event as transcendent as would to-day be the 
failure of J. P. Morgan and Company, or the Na- 
tional City Bank, if so catastrophic a thing can be 
imagined. Cooke 's institution had been of priceless 
service in floating Union Government loans during 
the Civil War. Without the bank's aid, Lincoln and 
Grant could hardly have carried on. 

Every money center in the land felt the shock of 
the Cooke collapse. Lesser houses, caught in the 
eddies of mistrust and fear which boiled up in all 
directions, went under by the dozen. Many people 
held Congress responsible for releasing the econom- 
ic furies because of the passage of a currency bill, 
known as *'the Crime of 'Seventy-Three," because 
of its discrimination against the silver dollar. 
Therefore both gold and silver were freely coined 
on terms of parity. Either precious metal was ex- 
changeable at the Treasury for an equivalent weight 
in coin. That is to say, a citizen could obtain gold 
coins for his silver or silver coins for his gold at the 


rate of sixteen ounces of silver to one ounce of gold. 
Such was the parity that William Jennings Bryan 
converted into a popular political slogan in 1896, 
when he sought the presidency on a ''free silver'* 
platform. Bryan demanded that the ''Crime of 
'Seventy-Three" should be expiated by re-legalizing 
"the free and unlimited coinage of silver" at the 
ratio of sixteen to one. "You shall not crucify man- 
kind upon a cross of gold," he shrieked in his im- 
mortal peroration at the Democratic national 
convention in Chicago. Bryan was overwhelmed at 
the succeeding election mainly because the country 
feared a repetition of the crisis of 1873. 

As always happens on these cyclonic occasions — 
panics in the United States, before creation of the 
Federal Eeserve system, recurred mth regularity 
about every twenty years — the panic of 1873 cleared 
the economic atmosphere. Sturdy oaks of commerce 
and finance were brought down before the storm 
spent its fury. Families which had never known 
anything but affluence were reduced to poverty over- 
night. Historic "Black Friday" saw the panic 
raging at the zenith of its destructive force. Thence- 
forward the stabilizing process set steadily in, but 
the back-wash of the incidental tidal wave of bank- 
ruptcy spread its ruinous effects over many years. 

The panic of 1873 was one of the things known in 
Emile Berliner's native country by the expressive 
idiom of Kinderhrankheiten — ^the diseases of child- 
hood. America was in its economic childhood — 


undergoing its growing pains. Wall Street lived to 
learn that the great upheaval was one of the most 
salutary events in financial America's hectic history. 
Two men emerged from the encircling gloom as 
heroes and victors — Jay Gould and "Jim" Fisk, 
who operated together as speculators on the right 
side of the tempestuous market, especially in rail- 
road ''deals." 

In the business rack and ruin amid which Emile 
Berliner arrived at New York for the second time 
within three years, he was aware that he could not 
be a chooser, though he was hardly a beggar, for he 
had saved some of his meager wages as a drj^-goods 
clerk in Washington. He speedily realized that he 
would have to take the work he could get without 
waiting for the kind he preferred. It is interesting 
to note that, though now aged twenty-two, Berliner 
had as yet no concrete notions whatever as to his 
future. His anxieties were concerned exclusively 
with the bread and butter question. He had not been 
educated for a profession or any special vocation. 
His equipment consisted entirely of a studious na- 
ture, zest for hard work, ambition, natural intelli- 
gence and ample self-confidence. Despite a distinct 
trace of intuitiveness in his make-up, the inventive 
streak in him had not yet shone. 

Berliner was interested, but not engrossed, in 
scientific achievement, and, of course, had had no 
sort of preparation for it. So he turned in New 
York to the first employment that came to hand. It 


was of variegated hue. He sold glue. He painted 
the backgrounds of enlarged tin-type portraits — his 
talent for drawing stood him in stead for that 
artistry. He gave German lessons. The United 
States was still awed by the results of the Franco- 
Prussian war and Bismarck's creation of the 
German Empire by blood and iron. Americans 
acquired a correspondingly new interest in the 
Fatherland. There was a bull market for instruc- 
tion in the language which Mark Twain described as 
**the only one in the world in which you can travel 
all day in one sentence mthout changing cars." 

New York having failed to launch Berliner on 
the tide that leads to fortune, the spirit moved him 
to barken to the advice of Horace Greeley: ''Young 
man, go west!" In literal truth, it was not Gree- 
ley's admonition so much as an advertisement in a 
New York newspaper that turned Berliner's 
thoughts in the direction of the setting sun. "Mil- 
waukee gents' furnishing house wants enterprising 
young man to go on the road" was the seductive 
legend that attracted Berliner's attention and as 
promptly determined him to don the armor of a 
knight of the gripsack and sample-case. 

Commercial travelers were already known as 
** drummers." They were the real ambassadors of 
trade. Advertising, as we know it to-day, was non- 
existent. The mail-order house was as undiscovered 
a phenomenon as the automobile. "Drummers" 
made good wages and were regarded indispensably 


members of business society. Berliner applied for 
the ISIilwaukee job and got it. Behind the counter at 
Gotthelf, Behrend and Company's store in Wash- 
ing-ton he had learned the mysteries of collars and 
cuffs, neckties and suspenders, and the other habili- 
ments of haberdashery. When he turned up in 
Milwaukee, then almost as German a city as his na- 
tive Hanover itself, his employers-to-be were agree- 
ably surprised by his familiarity with the language 
of the ''gents' furnishings" tribe. 

Wisconsin provided young Berliner with many 
reminders of the Fatherland besides its omnipresent 
German population. In the first place, it was bleak 
and cold — Berhner arrived from the East in a tem- 
perature of thirty-three degrees below zero and with 
a pair of frozen ears. The Dairy State flowed with 
milk and cheese, as well as lager beer, and those 
institutions helped to keep Berliner from grooving 
homesick, too. His employers told him he was to 
travel up and down the Mississippi River between 
St. Paul and St. Louis, and out to the Missouri 
River as far west as Omaha. The western spaces 
were even more "open" than they are to-day. 
Distances between settled communities were greater 
and conditions immeasurably more primitive. The 
^■' trade" Berliner was assigiied to canvass was of a 
sort to test every ounce of salesmanship in his green 
iftake-up. For the most part it consisted of 
Da\id Harums who had gone west to grow up with 
^hh- countiy and could bargain the bark off a tree. 


Travel was principally by Mississippi Eiver 
barges — tedious, hot, uncomfortable and slow. Ber- 
liner had to learn to speak a Avholly different brand 
of American language than that he acquired on the 
Atlantic seaboard. He found himself in the presence 
of the mid-western drawl, and, as his wanderings 
took him down river, he had to master the lingo of 
the Mississippi darky, who spoke a dulcet tongue 
that was all his own. Many of the rural storekeepers 
to whom Berliner offered Milwaukee creations in 
"gents' " finery were Mark Twain's people — the 
droll, shrewd types among whom Huckleberry Finn 
and Tom Sawj^er grew up. The young drummer, 
with his microscopic mind, found lively amusement 
in studying the Main Street types of the era. 

Berliner was a satisfactory, if not a scintillating, 
traveling salesman, but he did not succumb to the 
lure of the Middle West. After considerably less 
than a year's dabbling in ''gents' furnishings" he 
retraced his steps to the East. For the third time 
he arrived in New York with life stretching before 
him a complete blank. Yet the rolling stone unwit- 
tingly now was heading for the path along which he 
was to reach a worthy destination. 

The year 1875 was tapering to its end when Ber- 
liner obtained work in the laboratory of Doctor 
Constantine Fahlberg, an analyst of sugar by occu- 
pation. While Fahlberg was respected in the 
limited community which had need of his profes- 
sional ser\aces, he was not looked upon as the scien- 


tific genius lie later was recognized to be. It was 
several years afterward that Falilberg discovered 
saccharin, the intensely sweet crystalline substance 
derived from coal tar and now in so common use in 
both industry and medicine. 

In one of Emile Berliner's scrap-books is a clip- 
ping dated 1886, which contains Fahlberg's own 
story of the discovery of saccharin. 

It reads: 

''One evening I was so interested in my labora- 
tory that I forgot about supper until quite late, and 
then rushed off for a meal without stopping to wash 
my hands. I sat down, broke a piece of bread, and 
put it to my lips. It tasted unspeakably sweet. I 
did not ask why it was so, probably because I 
thought it was some cake or sweetmeat. I rinsed my 
mouth mth Avater and dried my mustache with my 
napkin, when, to my surprise, the nax-)kin tasted 
sweeter than the bread. Then I was puzzled. I 
again raised my goblet, and, as fortune would have 
it, applied my mouth where my fingers had touched 
it before. The water seemed sirup. It flashed upon 
me that I was the cause of the singular universal 
sweetness. I accordingly tasted the end of my 
thumb, and found that it surpassed any confection- 
ery I had ever eaten. I saw the whole thing at a 
glance. I had discovered or made some coal tar sub- 
stance which out-sugared sugar." 

Fahlberg's discovery of saccharin gave him 
fame. Berliner remained at the laboratory in the 
humble and unromantic capacity of a general handy 
man and bottle-washer. But he did improve his op- 
portunities at Fahlberg's workshop to the point of 

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Telegram Sext ox Emile Berlixer 's Arrival ix the Uxited 
States ix 1S70. Ixset, Mr. Berlixer ix 1S72 

Store in Washington Where Mr. Berliner Clerked 


learning to analyze raw sugar. The knowledge 
whetted his interest in research. 

Many of his evenings Berliner now spent at 
Cooper Institute, that meritorious university of the 
New York poor for the past three generations. He 
was a regular habitue of its library and indulged his 
growing fondness for scientific books and publica- 
tions. It was while frequenting Cooper Institute that 
Berliner struck up an acquaintance with a man who, 
as the result of a trifling episode, was destined to 
play an important part in the shaping of Berliner's 
career. Around the corner from his boarding-house 
was a drugstore into which Berliner often dropped 
for a chat with the proprietor, August Engel. The 
druggist took a fancy to his visitor and a whimsical 
interest in the young fellow's ambitions to develop 
his scientific bent. One evening, as the pair was 
standing around the coal-stove which, from the cen- 
ter of the store, radiated heat throughout the prem- 
ises, they drifted into a casual discussion of the laws 
of physics. Berliner had a smattering of the subject 
from his readings at Cooper Institute. 

''I've got a book on physics that I'll give you," 
the druggist said. It was forthwith produced and 
eagerly accepted. Berliner still has it. It is a Ger- 
man book, published in 1854 and entitled Synopsis 
of Physics and Meteorology. The author was Doctor 
Johann Mueller, professor at the University of 
Freiburg-in-Breisgau. The book was replete with 
wood engravings and in its day was a classic work. 


In Mueller's work were two chapters which en- 
listed Eniile Berliner's particular interest. They 
dealt, respectively, vrith. acoustics and electricity. 
Electricity was then a very limited branch of sci- 
ence, but Mueller treated it ^vith great clarity and 
intelligence. The book contains an illustrated story 
showing how Luigi Galvani, the eighteenth-century 
professor of anatomy at Bologna, discovered fluid 
electricity through a frog's leg which he had hung 
on a copper wire to dry. As everj'body knows, gal- 
vanometers, galvanoplastics and all the other 
terminology connected with the "galvanic" branch 
of physics get their names from the Italian scientist. 
Synopsis of Physics and Meteorology forthwith be- 
came Emile Berliner's faithful guide, philosophic 
text-book and scientific friend. He had his nose in 
it day and night. It set him to dreaming and think- 
ing. He studied it till he knew his favorite chapters 
almost by heart. 

Berliner now had quit his bottle-washing job at 
Fahlberg's laboratory and climbed several rungs up 
the economic ladder by becoming a bookkeeper in a 
feed store at twelve dollars a week. 

One evening after work, while boarding a street- 
car on his waj' home to supper, Berliner encoun- 
tered a friendly face. It was that of B. J. Behrend, 
now proprietor of the dry-goods store in Washing- 
ton, where Berliner had his first job three years 
before. Forthwith ensued an orgy of reminiscence 
over the old davs. There was a new and different 


Washington, Berliner was told, and a city much 
richer in opportunity than the crude capital of Re- 
construction days — so ran the seductive tale of the 
long-lost friend, who gave persuasive assurance of 
a future on the Potomac for a fellow as worldly 
vase as Emile Berliner had become. 

Berliner listened to the siren song, and arranged 
to return to Washing-ton (it was the end of 1876) to 
resume his clerking job in the Seventh Street store. 
Before he left New York he took out his first nat- 
uralization papers. Come what may, he was de- 
termined to work out his salvation as an American 
citizen. America was on the brink of an era of 
stupendous invention. In its development the youth 
of Hanover was ordained to play a role he w^ot 
not of. 



THE year 1876 marked far more than the one 
hundredth anniversary of the birth of the na- 
tion. It ushered in a new industrial age. We re- 
member 1876 as the period of the great Centennial 
at Philadelphia — as the patriotic celebration of a 
century of American independence under the sover- 
eign Stars and Stripes. But the year more richly 
deserves to be indexed in national history as the 
advent of a renaissance. It launched American in- 
ventive ingenuity upon a cycle of achievement that 
was to reconstruct the activities of the human race 
and turn them into channels beyond all imaginings. 
It can not be said that invention in America was 
a lost art during the first hundred years of our lib- 
eration from the British yoke. The inventive spirit 
of the * 'founding fathers" and of their generations 
of hardy offspring was far from being either extinct 
or in decay. Franklin's lightning rod, Fulton's 
steamboat, "Whitney's cotton gin, Morse's electric 
telegraph, Goodyear 's vulcanized rubber, Howe's 
sewing machine, Ericsson 's Monitor, Westinghouse 's 
air brake, and Sholes' typewriter were all discov- 


THE SPIRIT OF 1876 43 

ered or devised prior to 1876. But brilliant in con- 
ception and important in results as were those 
master strokes of American genius, the age which 
the Centennial introduced was to be distinguished 
by discoveries of even more transcendent impor- 

In their effects upon the lives and times of men, 
the ideas about to spring from American brains 
were ordained to be revolutionary. The nation and 
the world were at the threshold of the telephone, the 
talking machine, the incandescent lamp, the arc 
light, the gasoline motor, the trolley car, the self- 
binder, the skyscraper, the automobile, the motion 
picture, high speed steel and the airplane. Spoiled 
moderns, who look upon all these boons to ex- 
istence as matters of course, can not easily compre- 
hend the state of relative primitiveness which 
prevailed in the United States at the time of the 
Centennial. Radio, that quintessential accompani- 
ment of present-day life, was not remotely dreamed 
of when the Liberty Bell broadcast a new century of 
American freedom on the Fourth of July, 1876. The 
Centennial was the birthday of an epoch. 

Men, women and children seemed to scent the 
dawn of the new era. There was stimulus in the 
very atmosphere America breathed. Inspired by its 
colossal achievements thus far in wringing an em- 
pire from out of the primeval soil, the young giant 
of the western world stretched its sturdy muscles 
and expanded its mighty chest in proud conscious- 


ness of latent strength. It resolved upon fresh 
conquests in the fields of material progress and upon 
consistent development along the paths of enlight- 
ened democracy. Such was the spirit of 1876. 

No one was more fervently inoculated with it than 
Emile Berliner. He, like nearly every young man 
of ambition in the United States, had had a look at 
the Centennial, though only a cursory one, for it was 
confined to a day's holiday trip from New York. 
Music filled his soul at the time more than electro- 
magnetics. He did not know, when he visited Phila- 
delphia, that Alexander Graham Bell's telephone — 
such as it was — ^was modestly on exhibit at the 
Centennial. When asked not long ago for the out- 
standing impression of his visit to the great inter- 
national exposition in Fairmount Park, Berliner 
said: *'My recollection of seeing Offenbach conduct 
the Centennial orchestra!" Yet the Centennial 
spirit was destined to leave an indelible impress 
upon Berliner's life. Another Emil — Rathenau, 
founder of the famous Allgemeine Electricitats Ge- 
sellschaft (General Electric Company) of Berlin — 
came away from Philadelphia, declaring that the 
Centennial ''had electrified his soul." Eventually 
Rathenau electrified the Fatherland in a literal 
sense by superintending the first telephone ex- 
change in Germany and organizing the greatest 
electrical manufacturing concern in Europe. 

The spirit of 1876 was graphically depicted by 
Emile Berliner twelve years after the Centennial 

THE SPIRIT OF 1876 45 

when, speaking mthin a stone's throw of Inde- 
pendence Hall, he addressed the Franklin Institute 
of Philadelphia. On May 16, 1888, at the first public 
'demonstration of the gramophone, he referred in 
these terms to the Centennial cycle : 

**The last year in the first century of the history 
of the United States was a remarkable one in the 
history of science. 

' ' There appeared about that period something in 
the drift of scientific discussions which, even to the 
mind of an observant amateur, foretold the coming 
of important events. 

**The dispute of Religion versus Science was 
once more at its height; prominent daily papers 
commenced to publish weekly discussions on scien- 
tific topics; series of scientific books, in attractive 
popular f oiTn, were eagerly bought by the cultured 
classes; popular lectures on scientific subjects were 
sure of commanding enthusiastic audiences; the 
great works on evolution had just begun to take root 
outside of the small circle of logical minds from 
which they had emanated and which had fostered 
them; scientific periodicals were expectantly 
scanned for new information ; and the minds of both 
professionals and amateurs were on the qui vive. 

''Add to this the general excitement prevailing 
on account of the forthcoming Centennial celebra- 
tion with its cro^vning event, so dear to this nation 
of inventors, the w^orld's exhibition, and even those 
who did not at the time experience the effects of an 
atmosphere pregnant with scientific ozone can, in 
their minds, conjure up the pulsating, swaying and 
turbulent sea of scientific research of that period. 
Science e\ddently was in labor. 

**The year 1876 came, and w^hen the jubilee was 
at its very height, and when this great city of Phila- 
delphia was one surging mass of patriots filling the 


air with the sounds of millions of shouts, a still 
small voice, hardly audible, and coming from a little 
disk of iron fastened to the center of a membrane, 
"whispered into the ear of one of the judges at the 
exhibition, "who was one of the greatest of living 
scientists, the tidings that a new revelation had de- 
scended upon mankind — that the svrift and fiery 
messenger of Heaven's clouds had been harnessed 
to that delicate, tremorous,* and yet so potent form 
of energy called the Human Voice. 

"The speaking telephone was born." 

It is the golden jubilee of the telephone that 
America and mankind generally are commemorating 
in this year of 1926. Telephony's progress in the 
fifty years since its invention fairly staggers the 
imagination. Figures frequently fatigue. But there 
are romance and drama in those that tell the story 
of the telephone, and a power to awe, even in our 
age of monumental things. 

On January 1, 1925, there were 26,038,508 tele- 
phones in the world. Of that number, sixty-two 
per cent., or roundly three-fifths, were in the United 
States, which is overwhelmingly the banner 
telephone country. Europe had twenty-six per 
cent.; all other countries put together, twelve per 
cent. The Scandinavian kingdoms are, telephon- 
ically, next to America, the most progressive in the 
world, and their inventors have made valuable con- 
tributions to the art. 

*Berlmer used the ■word tremorous subconsciously because it con- 
veyed his precise meaning. Later it came to the attention of the 
Century Dictionary, and was incorporated in all subsequent editioHa 
of that lexicon, with credit to Berliner. 

THE SPIRIT OF 1876 47 

During the year 1924 the loquacious planet which 
civilized man inhabits and surcharges with language 
echoed to the thunder of 30,543,134,000 recorded 
and tabulated telephone conversations. Having the 
lion's share of telephones, Americans largely mo- 
nopolized the world's thirty billion talks by wire. 
There is an average of over one telephone conver- 
sation daily for every three persons, men, women or 
children, in the United States. While we were hold- 
ing twenty-one billion odd conversations, the rest of 
the world was conducting a beggarly nine billion 
odd. Following ourselves, the Germans and the 
Japanese were telephonically the most verbose peo- 
ples. China, or at least that portion of China still 
domiciled in Asia, does not figure in the official tele- 
phone statistics. The largest and most complete 
Chinese telephone exchange is in San Francisco. It 
is an artistic and architecturally exquisite little 
building, reminiscent of Cathay in its everj^ nook 
and corner, and conducted by American-born 
Chinese girl operators who dress bewitchingly in 
native garb and lilt "hello" in the ancient accents 
of their ancestors. Nearly twenty thousand sub- 
scribers are served from their pagoda of palaver. 
San Francisco leads American cities in the number 
of telephones per each one hundred population. 
Perhaps Chinese capacity for conversation is re- 
sponsible for giving the Golden Gate that distinc- 

Nearly three-quarters of the world's telephone 


systems are privately owned. About a quarter are 
comprised under government systems, such as Great 
Britain, France and Germany maintain. In the 
United States the overwhelming bulk of telephones 
is that embraced within the great coast-to-coast Bell 
System, in the eventual perfection of which the work 
of Emile Berliner played so essential a part. The 
Bell System has more contacts with the people of 
the country than any other single institution, not 
even excepting the United States Post-Office. Since 
it ** hooked up" radio broadcasting stations with 
its continent-Avide telephone and telegTaph lines, 
its contacts can be calculated only in tens of millions. 
Bell lines connect with Canada and Cuba. In the 
two cities of New York and Chicago alone there are 
more telephones than in the four continents of Eu- 
rope, Asia, Africa and South America combined. 
The 45,000,000 miles of wire in the Bell System 
would span the distance from the earth to the moon 
more than one hundred and forty times. So univer- 
sal is the telephone that it has practically put the 
old "city directory" out of business. Anybody in 
hamlet, town or city worth looking up nowadays has 
his name in a telephone directory. 

The financial aspect of American telephonic de- 
velopment is even more dazzling than the figures 
which record its physical expansion. So vast have 
become the holdings of the Bell System that a cor- 
poration entirely separate from the telephone com- 
pany proper, the Bell Telephone Securities 

THE SPIRIT OF 1876 49 

Company, is now concerned with their administra- 
tion. At its head is David F. Houston, who became 
the chancellor of the telephone exchequer after hav- 
ing been Secretary of the Treasury in President 
Wilson's Cabinet. 

Mr. Houston directs the economics of a colossal 
organism. The number of stockholders in the Bell 
System (known on the New York stock exchange 
as the American Telephone and Telegraph Com- 
pany) has grown from seven thousand five hundred 
in 1900 to more than three hundred and sixty-two 
thousand in 1926. About a sixth of the stockholders 
are Bell System employees. The total assets of the 
System on December 31, 1925 were $2,938,000,000. 
Telephone employees in the United States, including 
those engaged in making Bell apparatus, numbered 
on January 1, 1926, more than 335,189 (of whom 
41,709 were on the payroll of the Western Electric 
Company). During 1925 more than 813,000 
individual telephone installations were added to the 
Bell System. By the end of the year 16,720,000 
telephones were inter-connected so that practically 
any one of them can be connected with any other 
one anywhere in the United States, day or night. 
Over 50,000,000 toll and exchange connections, each 
an individual transaction, are handled daily. 

At the end of 1925 the Bell System's capital 
stock outstanding amounted to $921,597,000.* Net in- 

*The capital stock of the "A. T. and T. " -was increased during 
the summer of 1926 to more than one billion dollars, making it prob- 
ably the biggest corporation in the world, a distinction previously 
held by the United States Steel Corporation, 


come during that year was $107,504,000, derived 
from gross earnings of $761,200,000. For more 
than forty-four years the American Telephone and 
Telegraph Company and its predecessor have paid 
dividends to the public, which owns its stock, of not 
less than seven and one-half dollars a share per 
annum. Since July, 1921, dividends have been at 
the rate of nine dollars a share. Telephone rates 
are, on the average, only thirty-three per cent, 
higher than ten years ago, while wages and material 
costs have increased at a considerably larger rate. 
The genesis of these fabulous results, the mate- 
rial measure of the triumph of telephony's cre- 
ators — whose were the hands and minds that en- 
abled their fruition — the vision and the plodding 
that, between them, evolved conversational order 
out of acoustic chaos — the bitter controversies and 
heart-breaking, bankrupting litigation that dogged 
the footsteps of the pioneers — how despair, then 
victory, accompanied their labors in kaleidoscopic 
procession — that is now the story to be unfolded. 
Man's eternal struggle with the inscrutable is 
marked by few episodes so filled with drama. 



ALL inventions savor of the romantic, running 
the gamut that begins \vith inspiration, 
is marked by despair half-way, and ends in triumph. 
But there is no scientific miracle that outrivals the 
romance of the telephone. 

Talking by telephone is nowadays so fundamen- 
tal a part of human existence that w^e take it for 
granted, like the air we breathe, or the sky above 
us, or the flowers that bloom in the spring. We have 
come to regard the telephone, in other words, as a 
natural phenomenon that was always with God's 
children. Yet it celebrated its fiftieth birthday 
only in 1926. It is but a third of the age of our 
young republic. 

In the invention of the telephone one name 
stands out like Mars at Perihelion — ^Alexander 
Graham Bell. Though the idea of a telephone was 
not original with Bell, no one anticipated him in 
actual achievement. His own discovery was utterly 
unique ; his application of it, scientifically complete. 
It only remained for another to find the missing link 
in an otherwise flawless acoustic chain. That link 



was a practical transmitter. Alexander Graham 
Bell was the inventor of the telephone. Emile Ber- 
liner was its perfecter. 

The modern telephone is the joint product of 
their genius. History will bracket their names as 
those of men who dreamed their dreams in so prov- 
idential proximity that mankind, with little delay, 
was able to avail itself of the boon of telephony. 
Emile Berliner's invention of the transmitter, to 
be dealt with in orderly sequence in succeeding 
chapters, has been called the jewel in the crown that 
Bell fashioned — the gem that gave it effective luster. 

Charles Bourseuil, a Frenchman, was the first 
scientist of record to concern himself with the idea 
of sending speech by telegraph. In 1854, with un- 
usual boldness, Bourseuil advanced the theory that 
two diaphragms, one operating an electric contact 
and the other under the influence of an electro- 
magnet, might be employed for transmitting speech 
over long distances connected by wire. ^' Speak 
against one diaphragm," Bourseuil said, ''and let 
each vibration 'make or break' the electric contact. 
The electric pulsations thereby produced will set 
the other diaphragm working, and the latter ought 
then to reproduce the transmitted sound." 

The Frenchman was credulous enough — his 
hypothesis must almost have subjected him to sus- 
picions of lunacy — to believe that electricity could 
in some way be made to propel the human voice 
through space. Bourseuil's conception was intrin- 


sically sound. He realized tliat if some electrical 
mechanism could be devised so flexible as to respond 
to all of the vibrations of sound, he would have a 
*' telephone." 

BourseuiPs ideas were exploited with avidity by 
European scientific journals, which reprinted them 
from the original French publications. Among the 
first to take note of them was a prominent German 
semi-weekly, The Didaskalia, published at Frank- 
fort-on-the-Main. On September 28, 1854, it gave the 
earliest knoAvn expression to the term, ''Electrical 
Telephony." Under that title The Didaskalia 
printed a full account of BourseuiPs fascinating 
thesis. Had his proposition not called for a "make 
and break" electric contact, the telephone might 
have been a reality long before Bell invented it. As 
things turned out, the Frenchman's theory led the 
early explorers in the new field astray. Bourseuil 
died without carrying out his ingenious idea. 

Among Frankfort's institutes of learning was a 
Physical Society, which counted among its most 
zealous members an enthusiastic young teacher 
named Philip Reis, son of a poor baker. Reis con- 
structed for himself a ''telephone" embodying 
BourseuiPs conception. But it proved incapable of 
transmitting anything except the pitch of tones, or 
the pitch of speech. It could not transmit their 
quality. It produced nothing but a musical buzz. 
It never talked. Years afterward, Bell showed why. 
The reason was that you can not talk with inter-* 


rupted currents. You can talk only by continuous, 
electric current^ which represents the undulations 
of waves of the voice in all their minute shadings. 

Emile Berliner never tires of recalling that when 
Germans, twenty-five years later, read newspaper 
accounts of Bell's invention of the telephone, they 
flouted it as "an American exaggeration." They 
asserted that Germany knew all about the Bour- 
seuil-Reis apparatus and was certain there never 
could be any such animal as a talking telephone. 

The German language, which is rich in expres- 
sive idioms not easily translatable into English or 
other tongues, boasts of the term RecJithaberei — the 
state of being always and unquestionably right. 
Germans wallowed in RecJithaberei when they heard 
about Bell's telephone and Berliner's transmitter. 
They said it simply ''couldn't be done." Yet when 
they were finally convinced that it ivas being done, 
the Germans blithely claimed that the telephone was 
invented in Germany first! When Philip Reis, the 
baker's son was laid away, his epitaph read: "Der 
Er finder des Telephons^^ — inventor of the tele- 
phone. Reis was reported to have died in conse- 
quence of the sudden loss of the power of speech — 
a dramatic end for a man who was undoubtedly on 
the high road to achievement in the field of tele- 

Invention of the telegraph and the laying of the 
Atlantic cable gave natural and irresistible impetus 
in America to the next stage in sound transmis- 


sion — telephony. In an insignificant shop in cul- 
tured Boston a tall, raw-boned Scotsman, not yet 
thirty, was grappling more or less blindly with a 
device he termed a harmonic telegraph. ^'He was 
wholly absorbed in the making of a nondescript 
machine, a sort of crude haraionica with a clock- 
spring reed, a magnet, and a wire, ' ' says Herbert N. 
Casson, in his History of the Telephone, published 
in 1922. *'It was a most absurd toy in appearance. 
It was unlike any other thing that had ever been 
made in any country." 

The plodding Scotsman was a young professor 
of the laws of speech. His name was Alexander 
Graham Bell. Born at Edinburgh in 1847, he pur- 
sued the calling of three generations of his fore- 
bears. The first Alexander Graham Bell won 
distinction as the creator of a method for overcom- 
ing stammering and other defects of the vocal 
organs. His descendant, Alexander Melville Bell, 
became an elocutionist of renown and invented a 
remarkable sign language which he named "Visible 
Speech." It was to be the destiny of the third 
Bell — Alexander Graham — to give supreme expres- 
sion to the ancestral talent for improvement of 
speech by inventing the telephone. "Graham," 
Casson sets forth in his gripping story of tile tele- 
phone, "inlierited the peculiar genius of his fathers, 
both inventive and rhetorical, to such a degree that 
as a boy he had constructed an artificial skull, from 
gutta-percha and India rubber, which, when enliv- 


ened by a blast of air from a hand-bellows, would 
actually pronounce several words in an almost hu- 
man manner!" 

The Bell family emigrated to Canada in quest 
of a climate more invigorating than that of Scot- 
land, where two of Alexander Graham's brothers 
had succumbed to the white plague. He himself was 
threatened with the dread malady, and undoubtedly 
owed his escape to his early life on the North 
American plains. There, near Brantford, Ontario, 
he recuperated while teaching ''visible speech" to 
Mohawk Indians. In 1875 Bell was making his liv- 
ing in Boston as a teacher of ''visible speech" to 
deaf mutes. But, as a thorough student of the cor- 
rect theory of the telephone, his absorbing ambi- 
tion was to convert it into a workable, practical 
utility. That was the ultimate goal of his toyings 
with the harmonic telegraph idea in the machine- 
shop off Scollay Square. "If," Bell once explained 
in the early stages of his experiments, "I could 
make a current of electricity vary in intensitj^, pre- 
cisely as the air varies in density'' during the produc- 
tion of a sound, I should be able to transmit speech 
telegraphically." Along that line he steadfastly 
carried on. Meantime he provided satisfactorily for 
the creature comforts by maintaining a "School of 
Vocal Physiology." But as enthusiasm to plumb 
the bottomless mystery of telephony waxed, the 
number of his pupils dwindled. At length, two deaf 
mute girls, Mabel Hubbard (whom Bell afterward 


married) and Georgie Sanders, with whose uncle 
and aunt the young professor now lived, became the 
principal source of his pedagogical income. 

The Sanders home was in Salem, scene of 
early American * Svitchcraf t. " The cellar of the 
house was Bell's laboratory and workshop for three 
industrious years. There, amid batteries, magnets, 
tuning forks, wire, trumpets and what-not, he tink- 
ered and adventured in hermit-like seclusion. The 
canny Scot in him feared possible discovery and 
theft of his ideas. 

Bell, having determined that *4f I can make a 
deaf mute talk, I can make iron talk," resorted to 
the most outlandish recourses to promote his ex- 
periments. He cajoled a medical friend to ampu- 
tate an ear from a corpse, together with its internal 
parts, in order that Bell might use the human aural 
mechanism in tests with his acoustical apparatus. 

The conception and subsequent invention of the 
speaking telephone, while the latter was based on 
an accidental discovery, was the logical result of 
Bell's preparatory studies in acoustics and of liis 
innate capacity instantly to recognize the supreme 
importance of what suddenly happened — an *' ex- 
ceedingly faint sound which to other men might 
have been as inaudible as silence itself," says Cas- 
son, ''but to Bell was a thunderclap." 



BELL'S activities in 1875 were carried on in the 
attic of a fivo-story building at No. 109 Court 
Street, Boston. There was situated the electrical 
workshop of Charles "Williams, manufacturer of 
telegraphic instruments. It was the Mecca of aspir- 
ing inventors, men of vast dreams and meager 
funds, who came to Williams to have the offspring 
of their visions incubated into brass and iron. One 
of these dreamers was Alexander Graham Bell. A 
mechanic in Williams ' shop was another young man 
of Scotch ancestry, Thomas A. Watson, who was 
assigned to fashion Bell's apparatus. Later Wat- 
son became Bell's assistant. Thenceforward they 
worked together in the Court Street attic till the 
hour of triumph. 

Bell had just reached the age of twenty-nine 
when on March 7, 1876, the United States Patent 
Office issued his patent, No. 174,465 — since described 
as "the most valuable single patent ever issued^ ^ in 
the world. It was so uniquely ingenious an inven- 
tion that it couldn't be called by any recognizable 



name. Bell himself, groping wholly in the dark, 
christened it '*an improvement in telegraphy." 

But with the granting of his patent Bell's ex- 
periments, with Watson's faithful assistance, con- 
tinued intensively. Watson's own story of their 
collaboration is told in his Birth and Babyhood of 
the Telephone — an address delivered before the 
third annual convention of the Telephone Pioneers 
of America at Chicago in 1913 : 

**0n the afternoon of June 2, 1875, we were hard 
at work on the same old job, testing some modifica- 
tion of the instruments. Things were badly out of 
tune that aftenioon in that hot garret, not only the 
instruments, but, I fancy, my enthusiasm and my 
temper, though Bell was as energetic as ever. 

*'I had charge of the transmitters as usual, set- 
ting them squealing one after the other, while Bell 
was retuning the receiver springs one by one, press- 
ing them against his ear as I have described. One 
of the transmitter springs I was attending to 
stopped vibrating and I plucked it to start it again. 
It didn't start and I kept on plucking it, when sud- 
denly I heard a shout from Bell in the next room, 
and then out he came with a rush, demanding, 'What 
did you do then? Don't change anything. Let me 

''I showed him. It was very simple. The make- 
and-break points of the transmitter spring I was 
trying to start had become welded together, so that 
when I snapped the spring the circuit had remained 
unbroken while that strip of magnetized steel by its 
vibration over the pole of its magnet, was generat- 
ing that marvelous conception of Bell's — a current 
of electricity that varied in intensity precisely as 
the air was varying in density within hearing dis- 
tance of that spring. 


"That wave-like undulatory current had passed 
through the connecting wire to the distant receiver 
which, fortunately, was a mechanism that could 
transform that cuiTent back into an extremely faint 
echo of the sound of the vibrating spring that had 
generated it, but what was still more fortunate, the 
right man had that mechanism at his ear during 
that fleeting moment, and instantly recognized the 
transcendent importance of that faint sound thus 
electrically transmitted. 

"The shout I heard and his excited rush into my 
room were the result of that recognition. The 
speakmg telephotie was horn at that moment. 

"Bell knew perfectly well that the mechanism 
that could transmit all the complex vibrations of 
one sound could do the same for any sound, even 
that of speech. That experiment showed him that 
the complex apparatus he had thought would be 
needed to accomplish that long dreamed result was 
not at all necessary, for here was an extremely 
simple mechanism operating in a perfectly obvious 
way, that could do it perfectly. 

"All the experimenting that followed that dis- 
cover^,'', up to the time the telephone was put into 
practical use, was largely a matter of working out 
the details. We spent a few hours verifying the dis- 
covery, repeating it with all the differently tuned 
springs we had, and before we parted that night 
Boll gave me directions for making the first electric 
speaking telephone. ' ' 

How real telephone history later was inaugu- 
rated is recorded by Watson in a few simple words 
that deserve immortality: 

"I had gone to the Exeter Place rooms one eve- 
ning to help Bell test some improvement and to 
spend the night mth him. The occasion had not 
been arranged or rehearsed, as I suspect the send- 


ing of the first message over the Morse telegraph 
was arranged years before. Instead of that noble 
first telegraphic message — 'What hath God 
wrought' — the first message of the telephone 'was: 
'3/r. Watson, please come here, I ivant yoii!' " 

That was on March 10, 1876. It was the first 
complete sentence ever spoken and understood over 
the telephone. Although perfection was still invis- 
ibly remote, Bell and "Watson had seen a great light. 
During the summer of 1876 matters moved more 
rapidly with them. How grateful Bell was for small 
favors in the form of gradual progress is quaintly 
admitted by Watson, who observed that ''the tele- 
phone was talking so well that one didnH have to 
ask the other man to say it over again more than 
three or four times before one could understand 
quite well, if the sentences ivere simple.^' 

It was the summer of the great Centennial at 
Philadelphia. Through the influence of Gardiner 
G. Hubbard, the father of Mabel Hubbard, the deaf 
mute to whom Bell had taught "visible speech" and 
who was now his sweetheart, the young inventor 
gained fortuitous access to the exposition. Hub- 
bard, a Centennial Commissioner from Massachu- 
setts, arranged for Bell to exhibit his telephone in 
some obscure waste space in the Education Depart- 
ment. There, on a plain table standing between a 
stairway and a wall, the mechanism that was to 
revolutionize mankind's activities first peeped forth. 
No \iolet was ever more shrinking. 


Romance took Bell to the Centennial, and Chance 
brought about his recognition there. By the merest 
accident of good fortune, the exposition judges had 
planned a special trip of inspection through the 
Department of Education for the first Sunday Bell 
was in Philadelphia. Hearing of the tour, Gardiner 
G. Hubbard, a patriarch of a man with flowing 
white hair and a beard that draped almost his whole 
chest, successfully pleaded with the judges to tarry 
for a moment at the hole in the wall where Bell's 
telephone apparatus was on display. It had been 
there, unheralded and unnoticed, for the better part 
of six weeks. 

Amid the myriad of novelties with which the 
great Centennial was crowded, neither officials nor 
visitors had dignified the telephone with anything 
except passing attention ; and hardly that. Nobody 
at all had the faintest realization that this crude 
contraption had already given forth a tinkle 
destined one day to roar around the ci\'ilized globe. 

A hot Philadelphia afternoon had gone and sun- 
down come, when, along about seven o'clock, the 
judges, who must have been conscientious souls, 
finally put in an appearance, frazzled by the heat, 
fatigued by their miles of meanderings through the 
exhibition buildings, and on the verge of surrender 
to the inner man, for it was past dinner-time. Bell 
pondered that they were in anything but ideal mood 
to pass considered judgment upon his poor thing of 
brass and wood and reeds. His fears were not 


groundless. With a gesture of indifference border- 
ing on contempt, one of the judges picked up one 
of Bell's receivers and replaced it on the table with 
a bored grimace. Another judge indulged in what 
we moderns call a ''wise crack," bringing comic 
relief into the situation, with the abashed young 
inventor as the butt. 

Then it was Chance intervened, clad in imperial 
robes. The Centennial's most august ^dsitors were 
the Emperor Dom Pedro de Alcantara, of Brazil, 
and his consort, the Empress Theresa, doomed, 
thirteen years later, to be dethroned by a revolution 
and to spend the rest of their saddened lives in 
banishment and exile. Casson terms what now en- 
sued a fit setting for a chapter in The Arabian 
Nights Entertainments. Their Brazilian majesties, 
at the head of a retinue of courtiers and Centennial 
oflficials, happened at that late hour to be making 
one of their periodical promenades through the ex- 
position grounds and buildings. They sauntered 
quite casually into the room where Bell's telephone 
was on exhibition. To the consternation of the in- 
ventor, his friends and the jury of mocking judges, 
Dom Pedro strode straight toward Bell, held out 
both hands to him, and said: "Professor Bell, I am 
delighted to see you again!" 

Had the roof of the building suddenly caved in, 
or the floor sunk beneath them, neither Bell nor the 
judges could have been more thunderstruck. It 
must be remembered that, till that moment, Alex- 


ander Graham Bell was an utterly unknown inven- 
tor, like thousands who were tempting Fate and 
wooing the goddess of Fortune at the Centennial. 
In its voluminous catalogue they were merely 
numbers, and Exhibits A, B. C, etc. Bell was 
momentarily at a loss to account for the Brazil- 
ian Emperor's unfeigned cordiality and unmistak- 
able acquaintance with him. Then it suddenly 
dawned upon him that Dom Pedro a couple of years 
before had observed Bell teaching a class of mutes 
at Boston University, and, largely in admiration 
of the ^'Bell system" of visible speech, later estab- 
lished an institute for the deaf at Rio de Janeiro. 
Royalty now altered the whole atmosphere of the 
stuffy quarters in which the Bell telephone was 
tucked away. The judges were no longer jocular 
or apathetic. They were standing up and taking 
notice. Dom Pedro was fascinated by Bell's simple 
story of what he had invented. The Emperor, 
though he was from Brazil, and not Missouri, asked 
to be shown. Bell had a wire running across the 
room. At the transmitter end he himself took up 
station, having requested Dom Pedro to place the 
receiver to his ear on the other side of the room. An 
awesome silence reigned while the entire party, a 
group of fifty or more, waited, a little incredulously, 
for something to happen. Then suddenly, and ex- 
citedly, with a typical Latin gesture of animated 
emotion and astonishment, the Brazilian Emperor 
cried aloud: ''My God! It talks!" 


Bell next invited Professor Joseph Henry, the 
oldest scientist present, to take the receiver. Henry 
was the acknowledged authority on electrical science 
in the United States. He evolved the theory of a 
telephone before Bell's birth in the Scottish high- 
lands half a century before. In 1875 Bell borrowed 
money to journey from Salem to "Washington for a 
consultation with Henry, whom he found generously 
helpful and encouraging. Henry told Bell that the 
young inventor, his junior by fifty years, was *'in 
possession of the germ of a great invention." 

Bell lamented his lack of electrical knowledge. 
"Get it," said Henry. Bell said afterward those 
two words proved a life-time of inspiration to him. 

After Professor Henry, Britain's great savant, 
then Sir William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin, and 
recognized throughout the world as the most em- 
inent living electrical authority, was invited to 
undergo the sensational experience of telephone 
talk. Thomson a few years before had functioned 
triumphantly as engineer of the first Atlantic cable. 
When he turned from Bell's receiver, he affirmed, 
enthusiastically: "It does speak. It is the most 
wonderful thing I have seen in America!" 

Bell and his telephone had now "arrived." 
Henry and Thomson were both judges. That they 
would heartily confer upon the invention the cov- 
eted Certificate of Award was no longer a matter 
of doubt. In their subsequent official reports they 
frankly registered their early skepticism and as un- 


reservedly conceded their complete conversion. 
*'Mr. Bell has achieved a result of transcendent 
scientific interest," wrote Sir William Thomson. 
*'I heard his instrument speak distinctly several 
sentences. ... I was astonished and de- 
lighted. ... It is the greatest marvel hitherto 
achieved by the electric telegraph." 

Darkness had long superseded dusk that humid 
Philadelphia Sunday afternoon at the Centennial 
before the judges were tempted to desert Bell's 
telephone. Alternately they talked and listened — 
literally, for hours. Next day the telephone was 
transported in triumph from its humble place in 
Education Hall to the judges' pavilion. There it 
remained enthroned for the rest of the Centennial, 
the magnet that drew scientists and visitors in jost- 
ling throngs. Overnight it had become ''the star 
of the Centennial." 

"It had been given no more than eighteen words 
in the official catalogue," says Casson, "and here 
it was acclaimed as the wonder of wonders. It lia 
been conceived in a cellar and born in a machine 
shop ; and now, of all the gifts that our young Amer- 
ican Republic had received on its one hundredth 
birthday, the telephone was honored as the rarest 
and most welcome of them all," 



BY THE time the Centennial had passed into his- 
tory, leaving America in a state of national ex- 
altation over her glorious past and illimitable future, 
Emile Berliner was at work again in Washington. 
His job was that of a bookkeeper in the Seventh 
Street store, but it was not his pre-occupation. 
''Long, long thoughts" filled his head, and they 
were far remote from debits and credits. He had 
passed his twenty-fifth birthday. He had taken 
out American citizenship first papers. He had 
become thoroughly infected with the creative 
spirit that saturated the country. His studies in 
acoustics and electricity turned his attention 
naturally to the subject of telephony. The new 
science was a matter of popular discussion because 
of newspaper accounts, but few had ever seen a 
telephone, let alone speak through one. Even Ber- 
^liner himself had never had a look at a telephone 

\ Unmistakably, as the impending development of 
Emile Berliner's bent was to show, the young man 
was an inventor by nature or intuition. It was to 



demonstrate that a man may even possess a scien- 
tific instinct without knowing it. Berliner had an 
unquenchable longing to do something in the scien- 
tific field into which ambition was leading him, but 
he had no glimmer of realization that in him lay 
dormant talent which would ultimately spur ambi- 
tion to the point of stellar achievement. Thus 
without anything savoring of trained equipment, 
premeditation ot conscious purpose, Berliner's 
mind now drifted steadily along the uncharted 
course to which the wizardry of telephony pointed. 
It would not do to say that Berliner was merely 
toying with the problems which electrical sound- 
transmission raised in his inquisitive thoughts, for 
he was deeply impressed by its mysteries and pro- 
found possibilities. But in the post-Centennial 
winter that found liim drudging in a bookkeeper's 
cage at the back of a little store in Washington, 
Berliner's scientific activities were mainly confined 
to dreaming and speculating. He had a vagnie no- 
tion that somewhere along electrical lines a career 
would eventually open for him. It is no disparage- 
ment of the reputations which many inventors have 
won to say that predilection and accident are often 
among the factors upon which they were built. 
Could the annals of scientific achievement be traced 
to their source, it would undoubtedly be discovered 
that more than one dizzy height was scaled by means 
of chance abetting genius at a psychological moment. 
Lady Luck has played a star role throughout the 


whole drama of mankind's miceasing evolution. But 
it is only the intense mind, prepared to recognize the 
accidental when it happens, that turns it to account. 
Such was the mentality of Emile Berliner. 

James J. Storrow, Sr., of Boston, one of the 
most brilliant patent lawyers America ever pro- 
duced, then counsel for the Bell Telephone interests, 
once made a study of the psychological conditions 
out of which inventors and inventions are developed. 
He found that far more original ideas occur to in- 
ventors between the ages of twenty-one and twenty- 
eight years than at any other period. Berliner, in 
the midst of his twenty-sixth year, was immersed in 
the consuming aspiration to make something of 
himself in physical science in general, and in the 
magic field of the speaking telephone in particular. 
To become identified with this new industry as a 
worker in it, rather than to give it new direction 
in any pioneering sense, was his primary desire. 
It amounted to a determination. He sensed that 
telephony was "the coming thing." He wanted to 
be on the ground floor of its development, and grow 
up with it. 

In 1910 Emile Berliner, addressing the Tele- 
phone Society of Washington, gave an amusing ac- 
count of the conditions amid which he set to ex- 
perimental telephonic work in the bleak midwinter 
of 1876-1877. 

"I lived in Washington, as I do now," he said, 
**and there was one little store that dealt in electri- 


cal goods, the store of Mr. George C. Maynard. It 
was on G Street, between Fourteenth and Fifteenth 
Streets — a little bit of a store. It contained a few 
keys and sounders and bluestone batteries (they did 
not have any others, to speak of) and some relays 
and some tapes, and some wire, and probably one 
or two more highly scientific coils and galvano- 
meters. But that was all. That comprised the 
electrical stores of Washington. 

"There was no commercial electric light, but 
there was at the Capitol, near the dome upstairs, a 
large room in which was a big battery consisting 
of about one hundred so-called Smee cells. At that 
time these were ver^^ well known among scientific 
men. Each consisted of a jar full of sulphuric acid 
and water, a piece of carbon and a piece of zinc. 
That was a Smee cell. Of course, you know it 
polarized, weakened, very quickly. Every Fourth of 
July the daily papers announced : ' To-night the elec- 
tric light will be shown from the Capitol, ' and every- 
body was down on Pennsylvania Avenue after dark 
to see it. All at once we would see a brilliant arc 
light at the lower part of the dome. The electrician 
was at work. By and by it went out because the 
battery polarized, and then we had to wait about 
twenty minutes or a half-hour for another glimpse 
of the shining electric light. It was quite an inter- 
esting exliibition, and everybody enjoyed it very 

"There were no dry cells known in those days 
and there was no electric bell. The house bells 
were mechanical. Iron bell wire was used, and 
eveiy blacksmith, or every locksmith, knew how to 
fix the house bell, and from time to time the wire 
would stretch, or something of the kind, and they 
had all kinds of trouble with the bell. Of course, it 
was a pretty good-sized bell, and gave the old-time 
jingle such as you hear now and then in boarding- 

First Bell Telephone, June, 1875 
Bell's Magneto System, 1876 


Bell's Magneto Telephone, 1877. (Contempokary Jllustkation) 
Bell's Magneto Telephone System in 1877 


''Then there were horse-cars, no electric cars. 
Afterward they had the cable-car, and one day, the 
power-house was burned, and they had to supply 
horses for the cars. I recall how I once had the 
privilege of riding up to Mt. Pleasant in a mule 
car. They got the mules over in Alexandria to help 
out. Of course, it required some time to get around, 
but people had plenty of time then. If you wanted 
anything, you had to send a messenger, and you 
could attend to only two or three transactions a day, 
where you can now attend to a hundred "snth the 
aid of the telephone. 

"There was but one electrical paper in the 
United States. That was the official organ of the 
Western Union Telegraph Company, and known as 
the Journal of the Telegraiih. It came out once a 
month as a sort of pamphlet. Such were the con- 
ditions in 1876." 

Berliner was li\dng in a room on the third floor 
of a typical, middle-class Washington brick dwelling 
of the era, situated at No. 812 Sixth Street, N. W., 
and just around the comer from the Behrend store. 
Though plainly furnished, the house was neatly 
kept by a widow and her two half-grown children, 
who were engaged in the time-honored business of 
** taking lodgers." Berliner's quarters soon came 
to look and smell like an electrical laboratory. He 
filled the place with wires, batteries and other 
paraphernalia. Presently he rigged up a set of 
** telephones" between his window and the barn. 
Another series of animated wires led to the living 
quarters of his landlady and her family, who were 
duly pressed into Berliner's experimental service. 


The house at No. 812 Sixth Street still stands. 
When Emile Berliner visited it not long ago, with 
a party of friends interested in seeing-* his first 
workshop, the present occupant was astonished to 
learn that she inhabits so historic premises. But 
she returned coincidence for surprise, when Ber- 
liner told her of the establishment's epochal place 
in telephony, for, she said, "I have three daughters 
and two sons-in-law, they all work for the telephone 
company, and my late husband himself was an in- 
ventor ! His name was Frank Howarth Brown and 
he devised the sorts caster for making type." The 
widow thought her home might well aspire to be 
known as *' Telephone House." It was not long 
afterward that The Transmitter, house organ of the 
Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company in 
Washington, having had its attention called to the 
quaint history of the lodging-house in Sixth Street, 
devoted an illustrated article to it. As "Telephone 
House" it now takes its place in historic Washing- 

Berliner had not seen the Bell membrane tele- 
phone at the Centennial and began tinkering with 
speech-transmission much as you play blind man's 
buff — without knowing at all where you're going. 
He thought that the proper way to transmit speech 
was by means of battery current. That fundamen- 
tal seemed clear to him. Bell had made his inven- 
tion with the magnetic current, but Berliner 
thought it might be possible to do it differently, so 


before the Bell process was understood except by 
a limited number of scientists, Berliner set out 
on unexplored paths of his own. Spare time during 
the working day and all of his evening time, till 
sleep claimed him, found him scheming and plod- 
ding, wondering and thinking, with his interest in 
the electrio mysteries growing with every unre- 
quited experiment. 

Presently it occurred to Berliner that he could 
take a diaphragm and a contact-pin, or screw, touch- 
ing it in the center, and somehow produce an un- 
dulatory, wave-like electric current by continuous 
action of the contact, that is to say, not by inter- 
rupting it, but by some form of perpetuity. *'I did 
not catch on to the pressure principle right away," 
he explains, '*but I thought that if I took a flat 
spring and attached that to a screw, I could adjust 
the spring against the diaphragm — the current, of 
course, passing across the contact — so that if I 
spoke against it, each vibration would bring a little 
broader surface of the spring against the diaphragm 
and thereby produce electric sound waves in the 
current. ' ' 

That was Berliner's first crude idea. He gave 
it form and substance by patching up a flimsy sort 
of ' ' telephone, ' ' which consisted of a membrane and 
a piece of spring in front. But he found he could 
not transmit speech. No discernible action ensued. 
Berliner now realized, probably for the first time, 
that his technical knowledge was unequal to the de- 


velopment of a conception that was inherently and 
scientifically sound. Then Fate intervened. It 
guided his steps in a fruitful direction. 

Berliner had struck up an acquaintance with Mr. 
Alvan S. Richards, chief operator at the Washington 
fire-alarm telegraph office, which the former visited 
occasionally. In those archaic times, forty-nine 
years ago, fire-alarm systems were as primitive as 
everything else in America was. The Washington 
fire telegraph office was filled with the usual jumble 
of instruments, alarm-bells and old-fashioned blue- 
stone cells or batteries. During one of his visits, 
Berliner told Richards that, in connection with his 
amateur telephonic experiments, he was now inter- 
ested in learning telegraphy, and had actually been 
practising at ''sending." 

' ' Come back and let me hear what you can do, ' ' 
said Richards. 

The chief of the fire-alarm telegraph pointed 
to an instrument in disuse, and told his visitor he 
might try his hand at it. Berliner had but begmi, 
when Richards interrupted to advise : 

''Hold on, this isn't right. You must press down 
the key — not simply touch it." 

"What difference does that make — whether I 
press the key down or not — so long as it makes a 
contact?" asked Berliner curiously. 

"What you have to do," explained Richards, 
"is to make a firm contact, otherwise your message 
might not be readable at the receiving end." Then 


he explained that in long-distance transmission, 
where the resistance is high, the sending key must 
be pressed down rather forcibly if efficient reception 
is to be assured. 

''That's why Ave use men exclusively for long- 
distance telegraphy," Richards added, ''because 
they naturally press down hard. They have a 
strong touch. Women wouldn't naturally press 
down hard and are therefore not adaptable to long- 
distance work." 

That clear explanation immediately sank into 
Berliner's mind. Quick as a flash, he rejoined: 

"Do you mean to say that more current passes 
over that contact when I press hard?" 

"Decidedly. That's exactly w^hat I mean," was 
the reply. 

"All right. Thanks. Good-by." And Berliner 
was off. 

"I went home in a highly expectant mood," he 
has since recounted, in telling of what proved to be 
the turning point in Berliner's telephonic re- 
searches. "I knew I had it. Forthwith I rigged up 
a diaphragm, made a contact with a steel button, and 
polished it up so brightly as to insure a clean contact. 
Then I began to adjust it until the galvanometer 
showed the current. Then I pressed ever so gently. 
I found that each time I pressed against it the gal- 
vanometer deflected a larger angle. I then knew the 
principle was right." 

Berhner saw through the microphonic principle 


before he had worked it out with apparatus. The 
kernel of his discovery lay in the conception of its 
operation. All the rules of electricity theretofore 
forbade the microphone. The invariable rule in 
electro-magnets had been firm contacts. He had here 
a loose contact with its importance lying in the vari- 
ableness of the press,ure, which at once presented 
itself as something far more delicate than the abrupt 
make-and-break principle of the old and abandoned 
Bourseuil-Reis apparatus. Berliner was using f 
Bell's undulatory idea, only he converted an already 
existing electric current of any strength into ivaves, 
corresponding to sound waves with all their minute 
characteristics, instead of letting the force of the 
voice produce a weak electric current as Bell's tele- 
phone did. 

"It needs an abler pen than mine to do justice to 
the work that Emile Berliner did in improving the 
telephone," says Waldemar Kaempffert, engineer, 
patent attorney and one-time editor of the Scientific 
American and Popular Science Monthly. ** Berliner 
was one of half-a-dozen men who saw the short- 
comings of the early telephone transmitter. He 
improved it both acoustically and electrically — 
standardized it, in a word, so that it became 
ultimately the instrument it is to-day. The Courts 
of the United States have given Berliner the most 
ample credit for this achievement, after a thorough 
examination of what patent lawyers call 'the state 
of the art.' '» 


During the famous telephone litigation Mr. Stor- 
row, the Bell Company's counsel, elucidating the 
Berliner discovery, said: ^'A thousand inventors 
have worked on telephones and five hundred of them 
on microphones. They have improved the details, 
but have not been able to supersede the Berliner 
type, so brilliant and daring was Berliner's concep- 

Mr. Spottiswoode, a scientist of eminence and 
president of the British Association, stated in his 
inaugural address at Dublin in August, 1878: '*It is 
remarkable that the gist of the (Berliner) invention 
seems to lie in obtaining and perfecting that which 
electricians have hitherto most scrupulously 
avoided — namely, loose contact." 

Professor Barker, the United States govern- 
ment's expert in the futile litigation to annul Emile 
Berliner's patent, confessed in his testimony that 
the invention of the loose contact transmitter at one 
time passed the limits of scientific credibility. ''If 
any man had come to me or to science, in 1877," said 
Barker, "and proposed the idea of the microphone, 
science w^ould have said: 'We have no reason to be- 
lieve that that is possible; that any material exists 
which will answer those purposes ; that those flight 
forces will accomplish anything. ' In short, I should 
have declared it impossible, and that, I think, would 
have been the judgment of all scientific men at the 

Thus the microphone came to be — the instrument 


which renders the faintest vibrations of sound au- 
dible, and. bv varying the contact pressure, in- 
creases sound's intensitv. 

TTe shall now trace more minutely the steps 
which Berliner took to enable talkative Mother 
Earth to hold her thirty billion telephone conversa- 
tions a vear. 



BELL'S telephone — ''the star of the Centen- 
nial" — was simply a good receiver. It was a 
very poor transmitter, even for short distances. 
You talked into it and you listened for a reply from 
the same kind of instrument. "When Emile Berliner 
set himself the task of making the BeU telephone 
practical for all distances, it was far from certain 
that what went into it as talk would come out as talk 
at the other end of the line. That which emerged 
was more often a jumble of sounds that was difficult 
to understand and had to be repeated. At best, it 
was necessary to shout the message, or clamp the 
lips on to the mouthpiece. Even then, it was a 
gamble whether the spoken words would be artic- 
ulate. The talking itself produced the electric cur- 
rent that barely went over the wire. It was the 
so-called magneto-electric induction force, discov- 
ei*ed by the celebrated Michael Faraday in Great 
Britain in 1S31 that produced BeU's speaking cur- 
rent. That was the mile-post which marks the 
beginnings of Emile Berliner's researches — the 
studies that led to the employment of the much 



stronger battery current, thrown into undulations 
corres;ponding to speech, and to his invention of the 

Until the year 1877 dawned Berliner's experi- 
ments had partaken mainly of the theoretical. He 
was now ready to give them practical form by de- 
signing an apparatus embodying his conception of 
the microphone principle. What the inconspicuous 
young dry-goods clerk, still a virtual stranger in the 
land of his adoption, was on the verge of achieving 
was a battery speech transmitter, the principle of 
which has never been changed or superseded. Out 
of the humble lodging-house back room in Washing- 
ton was about to come the magical little thing 
destined to link not only cities, but countries, and 
not only countries, but continents, and link not only 
continents but span the whole inhabited globe. 
To-day, forty-nine years after Queen Genius, in 
imagination, gave Emile Berliner the accolade and 
anointed him a knight of science, he pleads for a 
universal language which shall bind the nations as 
the telephone linked them. He believes it would end 
war, as the microphone, half a century ago, led to 
-the annihilation of space. 

Contemplate the miracle we are now dispassion- 
ately reviewing — no other term for it seems ap- 
propriate. The telephone was not yet in public 
use. Here was Berliner, under twenty-six, and 
utterly self-taught. He had no scintilla of the scien- 
tific background that predestined Alexander Graham 


Bell for a career in acoustical communication. Yet 
the young Hanoverian-American was by way of 
giving the telephone its most vital and essential ad- 
dition, the loose contact transmitter, or microphone, 
and the continuous current induction coil, or trans- 
former. He was to do so, most incredible of all, 
within a few months from the time of starting actual 
experiments. Asked innumerable times — asked often 
to-day — how a man of liis environment and complete 
lack of technical training managed to reach out 
into the infinite and, with the precision of a trip- 
hammer, hit almost instantaneously upon his objec- 
tive, Emile Berliner confesses himself at a loss to 

Probably a gift for concentration, and, as trained 
physicists have termed it, a scientific instinct, come 
as near to clearing up the mystery as anything else. 
Concentration was automatic mth him. He let no 
single day go by without pursuing his experiments. 
Every luncheon-hour at the store in Seventh Street 
would find Berliner snatching time to run around 
the corner to his "laboratory" lodgings. Either a 
few minutes of tinkering or a few moments of 
study — he allowed no time to go to waste. Some- 
times he was up before the sun, restlessly eager to 
observe the further effects of the elusive electric 
current on a crude contraption which a carpenter 
friend had rigged up for him. 

March 4, 1877, was a memorable day in Wash- 
ington. Eutherford B. Hayes, Republican, was to 


be inaugurated President of the United States fol- 
lowing an embittered contest with Samuel J. Tilden, 
Democrat, in the midst of which the grim specter of 
another American civil war more than once raised 
its menacing head. Hayes had been declared 
the duly elected chief magistrate of the republic, 
though by the slenderest possible margin in the 
Electoral College, and Washington, on Inauguration 
Day, was crammed with visitors in a state of excited 
expectancy. Among them were friends of Berliner 
who, visiting him, became so fascinated by what he 
was accomplishing in the magic new realm of com- 
munication that they forgot all about President-elect 
Hayes and the day's adventure — a trip to the east 
front of the United States Capitol for the inaugural 
ceremony — on which they had set out early in the 

The "miracle" that Berliner had to show them 
was the membrane of a toy drum with a common 
sewing needle firmly adjusted through it, a steel 
dress-button, and a guitar string — the chrysalis, 
though few believed it, of the telephone transmitter. 

Early in April, 1877, Berliner made an iron dia- 
phragm transmitter. He knocked the bottom out of 
a wooden soap-box; nailed on in place of it a 
piece of sheet-iron for a diaphragm, and placed a 
cross-bar across the middle of the box. A com- 
mon screw, passing through this cross-bar, touched 
the center of the diaphragm. In fact, Berliner 
soldered a polished steel button to the end of 


the screw so that the button was the actual contact- 
piece which touched the diaphragm. 

This was a great improvement. He tried it with 
a galvanometer and found that the current varied 
regularly with the variation of pressure. With this 
he easily got speech. The instruments were not per- 
fect, certainly. But they talked ; and they will talk 

Berliner's soap-box was a receptacle seven by 
twelve inches in size. The labels that still adorn it tell 
the world that the original package contained ''Old 
Brown Windsor Soap" made by the American Com- 
pany, of Philadelphia. Undoubtedly it is the most 
famous soap-box in history, though nowadays we 
usually associate soap-boxes with street-corner agi- 
tators. To-day it occupies an honored niche in the 
United States National Museum along with other 
Berliner relics. Inside of it is tacked a card on 
which is printed: 

Introduced in evidence in 

Circuit Court of United States District 

of Massachusetts 

In Equity 3106 : 

U. S. A. vs. American Bell Telephone 

Company and Emile Berliner 

Defendants' exhibit. 

Berliner's Soap-Box Transmitter, 

M. S. C, Special Examiner. 


There is fortunately a graphic record, in Emile 
Berliner's own words, of the precise chain of events 
that led up to this earliest, though epochal, achieve- 
ment of his. It is taken from his unchallenged 
testimony in the lawsuit brought by the Government 
against Berliner's patent. 

''On the eighth of April, 1877," he says, "late 
in the evening I had connected the instrument of the 
galvanometer I have previously described and I was 
joining two terminal wires for the purpose of clos- 
ing the circuit. It was exceedingly quiet about the 
house and on the street. In closing the circuit, I 
suddenly heard a noise coming from the chaphragm, 
which surprised me greatly. I thought I had mis- 
taken my ears, but on repeatedly making and break- 
ing the circuit a distinct and sometimes loud tick 
came from the diaphragm and apparently from the 
point of contact between the diaphragm and the 
steel ball. 

"That was entirely new to me, and I became 
much agitated, because I saw immediately that I had 
here a new electrical phenomenon, viz.: that sonnd 
was produced without the aid of electrical mag- 
netism, merely by the current itself. I quickly took 
a tuning-fork which I had in my possession ; I wound 
one of the wire terminals around the shank of the 
tuning-fork, struck the same on the table and ap- 
plied the vibrating prongs to the other terminal of 
the line. 

"Immediately a loud musical sound correspond- 
ing in pitch to the sound of the tuning-fork came 
from the iron diaphragm. I knew at that moment 
that I had made an important addition to my ob- 
ser\^ations, for I quickly perceived that if the dia- 
phragm could give out a musical sound, it could also 
reproduce speech, when, instead of an interrupted 
current, an undulatory one was sent to aifect it. 


^^— ^i^— ^— ^^^— ^— ^^— ^^^^^■^^^~'^— — ^— ^— ^— ~^'»^-^'^— ^""^"^^— — ^~™~" 

**I also saw very plainly that I had here an ap- 
paratus which would act both as transmitter and 
receiver of articulate sound electrically; and that I 
had something analogous to that of Mr. Bell, who 
also used the same instrument both as transmitter 
and receiver, but something far simpler and 

"I had always been ambitious to have apparatus 
different from that of Mr. Bell, and while I perfectly 
well knew that I could not get around his undulatory 
current claims, still I thought it was something to 
have actually apparatus entirely different from his ; 
and from that day I never touched again a Bell re- 
ceiver until about a year afterward, but used a 
contact transmitter also as a recei\'ing instrument. 

"On the next day I got another soap-box, 
brought it to the carpenter and had it fixed up in the 
same way as my other one. It was ready on the next 
day. I tried it on the evening of April tenth in my 
own room to see if it also was sensitive to pressure, 
and showed these variations of the galvanometer 
needle ; and on the next morning, before going to the 
store, I tried a practical experiment from my room 
to the room dow^i-stairs, and made the ladies of the 
house listen. 

"They were very greatly surprised when I trans- 
mitted as I always did, for the purpose of amusing 
them, by means of interrupted currents ; they heard 
the tunes loudly from the soap-box all over the 
room, and when I made them listen close to the ap- 
paratus and transmitted speech by variation of 
pressure they reported to me much better results 
than they had pre%'iously heard in other experi- 
ments, and they also thought that it was very won- 
derful indeed. They recognized my voice, and got 
familiar sentences now and then. 

"It was very difficult to adjust the apparatus. I 
had to run up-stairs and down-stairs continuously, 
both for adjusting the transmitter and receiver. The 


current would heat the contact, the plate would 
bulge off a little and get out of adjustment; but we 
did get quite good results." 

TThile it is easy to explain the action of the 
microphone by increase and decrease of pressure 
between two electrodes, it is not so easy to under' 
stand why a loose contact should transmit speech 
electrically, or in other words why an electric cur- 
rent can be thrown into waves corresponding to 
sound waves in all their delicacies through the 
meditmi of a loose contact by means of variable 

Several theories were advanced by scientists to 
explain the action at the loose contact. But Berliner 
himself very early gave the only explanation that 
"would stand scientific criticism. His theory was that 
a loose contact between two electrodes, or ends of 
conducting wires, is no real contact, but that a thin 
stratum or layer of air intervenes, and that this is 
the field of action where the voice vibrations with all 
their delicate differences are transformed into elec- 
tric vibrations exactly corresponding to the voice. 

Let the reader consider that air is a conductor of 
electricity precisely as is a metal wire. It does not 
readily cany as much current, but, being very elas- 
tic, it is highly adaptable to microphonic action. 

That there exists a layer of air between two 
electrodes in loose contact with each other has been 
proved in two ways, one by Berliner himself. He 
placed a loose contact, held together by light spring 


pressure, iu a closed box which was connected to an 
air pump that could exhaust the air from that box. 
Careful and repeated measurements showed that 
more current passed over the contact when the air 
was exhausted ; or, putting it more scientifically, the 
electrical resistance of the contact was lower in a 
vacuum than in air. The proof offered by others 
than Berliner consisted of looking through a loose 
contact with a powerful tele-microscope, when it was 
found that there was a thin gap between the two 
electrodes and that they did not actually touch each 

Therefore, it will be seen that when sound strikes 
the diaphragm, which actuates the loose contact in 
a microphone, it changes the thickness of that thiu 
layer of air at each ^^ibration and the electric cur- 
rent which passes is therefore thrown into electric 
vibrations corresponding to the sound waves. It 
may correspondingly be a surprise to some, to learn 
that the term ''talking on the air," so commonly 
used by broadcasters to-day, is more scientifically 
correct than is popularly realized. 

The curious receiving action of the loose contact 
has never been fully clarified. According to Emile 
Berliner's caveat of 1877, it is due to a force of re- 
pulsion at the contact, which is variable according 
to the strength of the passing current. 



NOW we approach an episode in the life of 
Emile Berliner that brands him, perhaps as 
much as any single achievement in his whole career, 
as a favored child of genius. Before he went to bed 
on the night of April 8, 1877, he made the rough 
draft of a caveat describing the telephonic results 
he had just achieved. Four days later he made a 
clean copy of the draft. Then he determined, with- 
out either legal or scientific aid, to conduct his own 
negotiations with the United States Patent Office 
covering the invention of the microphone. Under 
the former patent laws of the United States, a 
caveat was a description of an invention designed 
to be patented, lodged in the Patent Office before the 
patent itself was applied for. It operated as a bar 
to other applications respecting the same invention. 
Modern manufacturing corporations employ the 
great brains of the patent-law profession at fancy 
fees to draw their patent documents. 

Filing a caveat did not imply that the inventor 
considered his invention incomplete in the legal 
sense, but at most that he hoped to improve its form 


of embodiment. The patent statute speaks of ''a 
person wlio makes any new invention or discovery, 
and desires time to mature the same." The person 
has ''made" the invention, but more mature thought 
is eventually to apply the finishing touches. Ber- 
liner was experimenting in that direction. 

His financial condition at this time was such 
that he did not hesitate to avail himself of the 
privilege of drawing his own caveat, at a cost of ten 
dollars, instead of filing an application, which would 
have cost at least sixty dollars. Think of the plight 
of the man who facilitated the perfection of modern 
telephony, having to hesitate between the advis- 
ability of taking by himself a legal step of tran- 
scendent importance, because it was cheap, or hiring 
an expert to do it for him at a cost of fifty dollars 

As a matter of fact, Berliner's economic state 
required him to resort to every possible economy. 
Describing his plight at that time, in the course of 
the subsequent telephone litigation, Berliner said: 

"I had contracted some debts in 1876, in New 
York, which had not been fully paid when I returned 
to Washington. In the few months I was out of a 
job I had not earned anything at all. My place as 
bookkeeper brought me fifteen dollars a week, or 
something of that kind. I don't remember exactly 
the wages I had in the latter part of 1876 at Mr. 
Behrend's store in "Washington, but I was out of a 
position for a couple of months on account of the 
failure of my employer. After that I earned an 


avora^o of about twelve dollars a week with Mr. 
Bell rend." 

Lat(!r, duriii^c the same tostinumy, B(!rlnior tOHti- 
lied that while he was employed in the i^'ahlberg 
laboratory at New York, he was paid six dollars a 
w(M'k, <Mii(l li;i(l to Icjive that work because Fahlberg 
oouhl not afford to pay him more. 

]5erUiier's caveat was tiled and dated April 14, 
1877. 0])viously non-superstitious, ho had sworn to 
it the day previous, April thirteenth. It was com- 
posed niid wiitten (entirely by himself, without out- 
side aid of any clmracter whatsoever. Ho had 
famiruirized himself with the terminoloKy of the 
Pat(;jit Oflieo on such oeeasions, l)ut seoriied the 
Hervie(!S of a pat<(nt attoriKiy. The preamble of the 
Berliner caveat read: 

Tii(! petition of lOniih; B(!rliner, of llic (!ily of 
AVashingtoti, in the District of ( /oliiiiibi.'i, re- 
spectfully r(!presents: 

Tlud, he h;is made ecirtain Improvements in 
Meetrical Telegrjii)hy, or Telephony, and that 
he is now engaged in makinj^ experiiruMits for 
the purpose of perfecting the same, prepara- 
tory to applying for Lettcirs I'atent therefor. 
He ther(!fore prays that Ihe subjoined dcfscrix)- 
tion of his invention m;iy be filed as a caveat* in 
the coiihdential archives of the Patent Ollice. 
818 Seventh Street, N. W. 

'Bod Ai)pi'ri(lix for full Uixl. of Caveat. 


It "Was followed by the statutory ''Specifica- 
tion," of which the following opening paragraph 
tells the story of the microphone in a nutshell: 

''Part I. The following is a description of my 
newly-invented apparatus for transmitting sound of 
any kind by means of a wire or any other conductor 
of electricity^, to any distance. 

"It is a fact and a scientific principle that objects 
near each other which are charged with electricity 
of the same polarity repel each other. It is also a 
fact that if at a point of contact between two ends of 
a galvanic current, the pressure between both sides 
of the contact becomes weakened, the current pass- 
ing becomes intense, as, for instance, if an operator 
on a Morse instrument does not press down the key 
with a certain firmness, the sounder at the receiving 
instrument does work much weaker than if the full 
pressure of the hand would have been used. Based 
on these two facts, I liave constructed a simple ap- 
paratus for transmitting sound along a line of a 
galvanic current in the following manner, etc." 

James J. Storrow, chief counsel for the Bell 
Telephone Company and in his day without a supe- 
rior as a patent lawyer, and with few peers, thus 
eulogized Berliner's caveat, which, from the hour of 
its submission, ranked as one of the most remark- 
able documents ever filed with the United States 
Patent Office: 

"This now classical document, unrivaled for its 
concise accuracj^ and completeness, worthy to rank 
with Bell's patent (drawn also by the inventor him- 
self) was the unaided production of this young man 
of twenty-five. It is impossible not to feel that Ber- 
liner had made the invention and matured the sub- 


ject, and that he realized its importance. It was no 
vague and half-formed idea, of the sort that men 
abandon. No one ever throws away so perfect an 
offspring of his brain. There is one passage in it, 
which of itself is enough to prove that it was the re- 
sult, not of thought alone, but of thought carried out 
by experiment." 

Mr. Joseph Lyons, assistant examiner of elec- 
tricity in the electrical di\dsion of the Patent Office 
from 1880 to 1885, testifying during the telephone 
litigation, said: 

**When I came into the electrical division (De- 
cember, 1880), I asked for information on the 
particular point of whether anybody had anticipated 
Emile Berliner in the invention of the microphone, 
and I found that all assistant examiners in the room 
with one voice declared Mr. Berliner as the first in- 
ventor of the microphone. Under such circum- 
stances, I was not in a condition to question the fact, 
and, moreover, I found among the records of the 
office Mr. Berliner's caveat of April, 1877, which de- 
scribed a microphone in such clear and unmistakable 
terms that there could be no question about it. ' ' 

The new departure in Emile Berliner's experi- 
ments set the pace and charted the direction for bis 
future work in telephony. Now realizing that he 
had something different from Bell's telephone, he 
labored unceasingly to improve the loudness of the 
loose contact as a receiver. It was not until many 
months later that he came into possession of a 
modern Bell instrument and was able to notice that 
the loose contact was so wonderfully sensitive a 


For a time the Bell magneto telephone remained 
in obscurity. The country talked of it more or less 
vaguely and the newspapers wrote about it, but 
people never listened over a telephone, or ever saw 
one. For the most part Bell's invention was coming 
to be looked upon as a plaything. Now and then men 
would sheepishly confess their unwillingness to 
''make fools of themselves" by leaning against a 
wall and talking into a wooden box ^Yiih. no apparent 
result except a metallic echo of their own voice! 

Little progress in the new art seemed to be in 
sight. All of a sudden came the sensational an- 
nouncement that Bell's telephones were now being 
used over longer distances and that some people in 
Massachusetts were actually using the telephone for 
inter-communication between their houses ! 

But Emile Berliner was still in Wasliington wait- 
ing for his opportunity. 



NEARLY everybody who is interested in radio 
knows that the two vital instruments neces- 
sary for broadcasting are the microphone and the 
so-called transformers. They are parts of the vast 
inheritance which radio has received from tele- 
phony. Both of these were conceived and used by 
Emile Berliner for sending the voice by electricity 
in the spring of 1877. He discovered that the carry- 
ing power of the microphone could be much en- 
hanced by combining an induction coil in circuit 
T\ith it. 

In the practical arts it is always the aim of the 
scientific man to work with simple means and with 
the least expense. Thus, if it is possible to operate 
a telephone transmitter with one or two cells of 
battery, it is superfluous to apply a powerful dy- 
namo current or a battery of one hundred cells. 
Berliner was far-sighted enough to take these re- 
quirements into consideration. Within a month of 
the time he had worked out the microphone, he 
evolved the idea of adding the highly important 



In those early years, the transformer was known 
as an induction coil or incluctorium. It transforms 
currents of low voltage or low electric pressure into 
high voltage or high electric pressure. In the ver- 
nacular, as used even by telephone people, the trans- 
former '' boosts" the current. Before Berliner's 
application of the transformer to telephony, trans- 
former induction coils were employed only for 
making sparks, giving shocks, shomng the luminous 
effects of the electric current in vacuum tubes, and 
setting off mines containing explosive mixtures. 
For all these purposes, a battery current was passed 
through the inner coil, or primary, of heavj^ "wire, 
and when this battery current was suddenly inter- 
rupted a spark jumped from one end of the sec- 
ondary or outer coil, which was wound around the 
inner primary coil, to the other end or terminal of 
the secondary. 

In April and May, 1877, Berliner, who had no 
trained assistant to help him, had to run incessantly 
from one end of the line to the other when his crude 
contact telephones did not work well. It was cor- 
respondingly diflScult for him to readjust the deli- 
cate contacts in order to make them work satisfac- 
torily. Being full}'' familiar with the induction 
coil, he conceived the idea of putting one of his in- 
struments mth a small battery into the primary coil 
of an inductorium at one station and the second in- 
strument, which was at the other end of the line, 
with a small battery, into the primary of another 


inductorium. The secondary coils of both induc- 
toria he connected to the line. 

This arrangement made each of the contact in- 
struments independent of the other and greatly 
facilitated keeping them well adjusted. Incidentally 
it foreshadowed what afterward became common 
practise in practical telephony. 

It is also an historic fact that this was the first 
time that any induction coil or transformer was 
ever used with undulatory, continuous currents. 
This usage became the prototype of all subsequent 
transformers used by the million in power stations, 
electric light plants, and, to-day, in radio. The 
microphone and continuous current transformer, 
both invented by Emile Berliner forty-nine years 
ago, are indispensable to the science of broadcast- 
ing, and probably always will be. It goes without 
saying that transformers used in telephony operate 
by means of Berliner's continuous current system. 

Two weeks after Berliner filed his caveat in the 
United States Patent Office in April, 1877, describ- 
ing the microphone, Thomas A. Edison filed a 
patent application describing a transmitter in which 
a metal diaphragm vibrated against a large flat disk 
covered with graphite, a form of carbon. The action 
consisted in bringing a larger or smaller area of 
the graphited disk in touch with the diaphragm at 
each vibration. In the following year Mr. Edison 
developed his compressed lampblack button, which 
acted by increase and decrease of internal pressure 


on the lampblack. But it was Berliner who during 
the summer of 1877 first used a hard carbon micro- 
phone precisely as such contacts have alwaj^s been 
used by the Bell Telephone Company and later in 
the radio microphone. Multiple contacts introduced 
later were mentioned by Berliner in his caveat of 
April 14, 1877. 

The modern telephone transmitter, or micro- 
phone, of which the radio microphone is only a 
larger fonn, contains a box filled with granules of 
hard carbon, each in loose contact w^ith one another. 
It is noteworthy that, foreseeing this possibility, 
Berliner's caveat said: ''There may be more than 
one point of contact becoming effected by the same 
vibrations. ' ' 

Berliner, now having achieved continuously 
promising results, concluded to apply for a regular 
patent. For the purpose he sought the services of a 
patent attorney in order to have his application pro- 
fessionally drawn and filed. Acting as his own 
patent solicitor, Berliner had invested only ten dol- 
lars for a caveat. He now engaged an attorney, one 
James L. Norris, whose fees, Berliner thought, 
would be within reach of his slender purse, to over- 
see the drafting of an application for patent. The 
young inventor was blissfully unconscious that he 
was thrusting upon Norris a piece of electrical wiz- 
ardry so utterly strange that even the most erudite 
of patent lawyers of the time would hardly have 
been equal to it. Nor did Berliner dream that one 


day his ingenuousness would elicit from the eminent 
patent lawyers of the Bell Telephone Company the 
lamentation that he had not, as in the case of his 
caveat, drafted his own application for patent. 

During the luncheon hour of a late May day in 
1877, young Berliner hurried into Norris' law office, 
which occupied a small up-stairs room on Seventh 
Street opposite the Patent Office. By the window 
stood a man contemplatively immersed in the fav- 
orite male pastime of the era — tobacco-chewing. He 
was unshaven and generally unkempt, and in his eye 
there was a groggy squint. Berliner stated his er- 

''Coombs," said lawyer ISTorris to the unprepos- 
sessing person at the window, who turned out to be 
a ''scrivener" and, as Berliner observed, a marks- 
man of no mean talent on the tobacco-spitting range, 
"take down this young man's ideas and write them 
into a patent specification." 

Charles L. Coombs, the scrivener, as the patent 
litigation later was to bring out, received from Nor- 
ris two dollars apiece for drawing up patent speci- 
fications. After two half-hour lunch periods spent 
with Berliner, Coombs evolved the microphone 
specification. It was, of course, before the time of 
typewriters. Next day Berliner received a flimsy 
letter-press tissue-paper copy of Coombs' profes- 
sional masterpiece in the form of a specification, 
written by hand in ink. In spots the copy was 
almost illegible. 

MiOROPHOXE OF March 4, 1877. Used in Lawsuits ix 1879 

Still Transmitting Today the Ticking of a Watch and Every 

Other Sound 

Microphone of Berliner's Caveat, April 14, 1877, With Mouth- 
piece Added 




/A" OS£ S lives 1879 


yii-ifiL ( n/CRORHOA/E } IS77. 


Berliner had difficulty in deciphering Coombs' 
draft, but eventually discovered that it contained a 
number of poorly expressed statements. Meantime 
the application had been duly filed in the Patent 
Office under date of June 4, 1877, and the only rem- 
edy was to introduce amendments correcting 
Coombs' text. Berliner lost no time in filing these 
corrections, in full accordance with the legal proce- 
dure provided for such cases. In later years the 
forces opposing the Berliner patent made these 
amendments, necessitated by Coombs' slovenly 
work, one of the major pretexts for assailing the 
validity of Berliner's rights. The fact was that by 
the time the Patent Office reached Berliner's appli- 
cation, it had been corrected in every essential de- 

Berliner's invention struck the skilled examiners 
in the Patent Office as so wholly novel that in a let- 
ter addressed to Norris, dated September 19, 1877, 
they expressed doubts that so simple an instrument 
as a plate and a screw in contact with it could act as 
a telephone receiving apparatus. Berliner there- 
upon invited the examiners to his lodgings and con- 
vinced them of the soundness of his invention. 

Among the visitors who from time to time came 
to Berliner's room to observe his experiments and 
marvel at his achievements was A. S. Solomons, a 
prominent bookdealer. Mr. Solomons was a citizen 
of Washington of so eminent standing that he was 
selected as chairman of the joint committee of citi- 


zens and appointees of Congress to super\dse 
memorial services in the House of Representa- 
tives in memory of Professor Morse, inventor of the 
telegraph. Mr. Solomons was apparently very much 
impressed with what Berliner showed him, and, 
before leaving, asked if the inventor would not like 
to be introduced to Professor Joseph Henry, who 
was an electrician of great distinction and had been 
at the head of the Smithsonian Institution for a 
generation. Professor Henry was the sympathizing 
confidant of inventors in scientific branches and a 
discriminating extinguisher of pretenders. 

Berliner naturally expressed the greatest eager- 
ness to meet Professor Henry, and about the middle 
of July, 1877, accompanied Mr. Solomons to the 
Smithsonian Institution for that purpose. The inven- 
tor of the microphone explained to Professor Henry 
what he had, and the latter revealed the liveliest 
interest in Berliner's story. He said that at any 
time Berliner had the instruments ready to show, he 
would be pleased to have them brought to the Smith- 
sonian and inspect their workings. Berliner subse- 
quently took them there and exhibited them. 
Professor Henry was fascinated and addressed 
encouraging words to Berliner. 

On the second of October, 1877, there appeared 
in the National Republican, of Washington, D. C, 
the following short account of the episode : 

''Yesterday afternoon there was a very interest- 
ing exliibition at the Smithsonian Institution before 


Professor Henry of a number of discoveries and in- 
ventions of Mr. E. Berliner, of this city. The inven- 
tions consisted of improved apparatus and modes of 
electric communication. The first instrument 
exhibited was the * contact telephone' for transmit- 
ting sound vibrations from plate to plate, so as to 
enable persons to communicate. The second was the 
'electric spark telephone,' which produced the same 
result by another process, that of the transmission 
of a spark. The third instrument was a 'telephonic 
transfer,' designed for transmitting sound by 
changes in the intensity of the circuit." 

Berliner filed an application for patent of his in- 
vention of the continuous current transformer on 
October 16, 1877. A patent was issued to him on 
Januarj'- 15, 1878. Within a comparatively few 
months now, Berliner's unaided struggles were 
about to come to an end. He had invented the speak- 
ing microphone and thus completed the telephone. 
His rights and theories were indisputable, though 
soon to be long and bitterly contested. And so we 
pass to the next phase of Emile Berliner's develop- 
ment — the realization of his aspiration to play an 
integral part in the practical exploitation of the 



THE year 1878 was to be the year of practical 
destiny for Emile Berliner in the field of tele- 
phony — the stage of transition from hopes, dreams 
and pioneer achievements to the realm of actual 
association with the industry. Having invented the 
microphone, which completed Bell's telephone, and 
patented the continuous current transformer, which 
still further improved it, Berliner set promptly 
about the business of reaping the material rewards 
of his trials and triumphs. 

By this time commercial telephony had staggered 
into its swaddling clothes. Bell, the wizard, ^\dth his 
assistant, AVatson, an enthusiastic mechanic, and his 
far-sighted backers, Hubbard, dreamer and builder 
of air castles, and Thomas Sanders, the moneyed 
man of the combination, organized in Boston the 
nucleus of the Bell System, and began to improve, 
manufacture and install a few magneto telephones, 
to be used between individual homes and offices. The 
idea of inter-connecting the isolated groups soon 
followed, and the first switchboard was a natural, 
though at that time a very crude, development. 

Within a week of the granting of his transformer 



patent, Berliner placed himself in communication 
with the lawyers of the Telephone Company of New 
York (a subsidiary of the Bell Company), Messrs. 
Dickerson and Beaman, with offices in the old New- 
Yorker Staats-Zeitung Building in City Hall 
Square. In these modern days of Brobdingnagian 
finance, when capitalists and corporations juggle 
with millions as an every-hour pastime, it is difficult 
to read without a smile the following result of Ber- 
liner's baptismal dip into the commercial waters of 
telephony : 

**New York, Jan. 22, 1878. 
*'Emile Berliner, Esq., 
818 7th St., N. W., Washington, D. C, 
*'My dear Sir: 

"Yours of Jan. 20 and 21 received. I do not sup- 
pose that you seriously believe that your invention 
is worth $12,000 at the present time. The entire 
stock of the Telephone Company of New York is 
only $20,000. So you see that your interest would 
make a large share of that company. However that 
may be, we think it worth while to communicate with 
you further in the matter. 

*'I am therefore authorized to say in behalf of 
the Telephone Company of New York that they will 
be glad to have you call upon them here, in relation 
to the sale of your matters in the Patent Office and 
to such other arrangements as may seem advisable ; 
and they offer to pay your expenses during such 
visit to them here. 

''Please answer whether or not it will be con- 
venient for you to come and meet with the managers 
of the company in this matter. If so, as I before 
said, they will be responsible for your expenses. 

"Yours truly, 

"E. N. Dickerson." 


Berliner, though as yet a callow novice in the 
tortuous field of business, returned an adroit reply, 
which lost nothing in directness because of its quaint 
English : 

'^Washington, D. C, 
"January 24, 1878. 
*'E. N. Dickerson Jr., Esq., 
''New York City. 
"Dear Sir: 

"Your favor of the 22nd inst. came to hand. I 
fail to see the correctness of your argument to make 
the value of an invention dependent upon the capital 
of a Stock Company. 

"Still, aside from a present result of our ne- 
gotiations, I believe that a meeting with the mana- 
gers of the Telephone Company would only be 
promotive to general telephonic interests. Where- 
fore I beg to accept their very polite otfer made 
through you and will call at your office at about 10 
A.. M. this coming Saturday. 

"Yours very truly, 

"E. Berliner. '» 

Mr. Dickerson acknowledged Berliner's letter 
next day in a telegram over the wires of the 
"Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company," saying: 
"Glad to see you Saturday. Bring your instru- 
ments." Berliner went to New York, but negotia- 
tions with the Telephone Company came to naught. 
Hilborne L. Roosevelt and Charles A. Cheever, its 
managers, were interested in his apparatus, but not 
to the extent of desiring to acquire it. Yet the visit 
to the Telephone Company was by no means fruit- 
less. It led directly to relations between Gardiner 


G. Hubbard, Alexander Graham Bell's father-in-law 
and first president of the Bell Telephone Company 
at Boston — relations which were speedily to even- 
tuate in the realization of Berliner's burning desire 
to join the interests now bent upon exploiting tele- 
phony on the grand scale. 

The founders of the Bell System had very little 
money, but they had great faith. They were em- 
barked upon a long and arduous struggle to estab- 
lish a telephone service, and make it self-supporting, 
while developing and improving the telephone itself, 
interesting the public in its use and inducing 
investors to provide means for its growth. 

Every sort of an obstacle seemed to block their 
progress. Bell's patents were attacked, formidable 
competition appeared and technical difficulties which 
seemed insurmountable had to be met. Emile Ber- 
liner, though blissfully ignorant of it at this stage 
of his endeavors, was himself cast for the title role 
in a drama of litigation destined to be almost end- 

Nevertheless, there came to the Bell group a 
period of growth and expansion. By lectures and 
demonstrations the telephone was brought to public 
attention at home and abroad. A demand for in- 
struments arose in many cities almost simulta- 
neously, a demand greater than it was possible to 
supply immediately. Li spite of its constant strug- 
gle for existence, the Bell group adopted a policy 
of progress and improvement, and it was in conse- 


quence of that program that Berliner's ambition in 
the Bells' direction was ultimately to be gratified. 
Berliner's first contact with the Bell interests 
was the result of a letter of introduction from the 
management of the Telephone Company of New 

The Telephone Company of New York 
32 Tribune Building 

''New York, Jan. 26, 1878. 
''Hon. G. G. Hubbard, 
"Dear Sir: 

"This will introduce to you Mr. E. Berliner who 
has a very interesting Telephone that I would like 
you to examine, as some of the principles are very 
curious and may be of much importance. He lives in 
Washington and will be pleased to show his ap- 

"Very truly yours, 

"Hilborne L. Roosevelt." 

Two days later the Telephone Company wrote 
Berliner that Mr. Hubbard was now in New York 
and the Berliner apparatus would be explained to 
him there, so that he could examine it the more dili- 
gently when he went to Washington the following 
week. "You might send me two machines to try," 
Mr. Roosevelt added, "when you have them in good 
shape. Your experiments have interested me very 
much. I will be pleased to hear from you from time 
to time, and will notify you before I shall come to 
Washington. I will also report your offer in the 
matter of experiments." 


This correspondence marks the real inauguration 
of Berliner's association with the purely commercial 
side of telephony. Thenceforward there was an un- 
interrupted exchange of letters between the inventor 
and the men who were on the threshold of becoming 
the telephone magnates of America. The latter 
undertook forthwith to examine Berliner's appara- 
tus and his patents, with a view to their acquisition 
if they turned out to be as promising as they seemed. 
As for Berliner, he devoted himself assiduously dur- 
ing the spring of 1878 to perfecting, through cease- 
less experiment, the principles and mechanism he 
had already worked out. 

Meantime, ominous clouds were gathering in the 
United States Patent Office. These clouds, which do 
not always develop a silver lining, are technically 
known as "interferences." When several inventors 
come into the Patent Office mth applications for 
patents that apply to the same or similar inventions, 
the applications are "stopped" by the examiners 
and referred to a bureau which formally declares 
what patent law terms an "interference." There- 
upon, every rival inventor is required to file a state- 
ment detailing just when he conceived his own 
invention and when it was put into practise. The 
next step is a complicated and protracted legal in- 
quiry, which may last for months, or even years. 
Eventually the inventor deemed worthy of priority 
rights obtains his patent. 

During 1877 and early in 1878 other inventors 


than Berliner filed at the Patent Office their applica- 
tions for transmitter patents. Thus it came about 
that on March 16, 1878, an extensive ''interference" 
was declared by the Commissioner of Patents. 

The Bell Telephone Company was keeping an 
eagle eye upon all developments in the telephone 
field, particularly in the domain of patents. At the 
end of the spring of 1878 the Bell interests were rep- 
resented at Washington by Gardiner G. Hubbard, as 
trustee. The Bell telephone at this stage was much 
talked about, but little believed in. Practically no 
outsider was willing to venture the investment of 
capital in it. The idea of conversation over tele- 
graph wires continued to be regarded as a chimera. 
Hubbard's job in Washington was mainly to **sell" 
the practicability of the telephone to anybody who 
would stand still long enough to listen to his per- 
suasive ''drummer's" story of its miraculous pos- 
sibilities. A stately, gray-bearded, confidence- 
inspiring figure, Hubbard seldom failed to carry 
conviction. He trundled his pair of Bell telephones 
around Washington tirelessly, seeking opportuni- 
ties to show them to the most prominent men he 
could approach. One of these was Theodore N. 
Vail, the virile young superintendent of the United 
States Railway Mail Service. 

Presently the Bell group had its attention called 
to the possible development of a transmitter oper- 
ated by a battery. Forthwith they wrote their 
Washington attorney, an exceptionally shrewd law- 


1 ^ I I I I Til I -ll-r I 

yer named Anthony Pollok, to investigate the ''in- 
terference" declared by the Patent Office and find 
out whether there were any transmitter patents on 
file which the Bell interests ought to acquire or con- 
trol. Pollok made an exhaustive survey of the sit- 
uation and reported to the Bell Telephone Company 
that the only application which, in his judgment, was 
worthy of their interest was the one filed by Emile 
Berliner on June 4, 1877, covering the loose contact 

Four names at this time stood out in the ''inter- 
ference" cases before the Patent Office. They were 
Professor Alexander Graham Bell, scientifically 
educated and with interested and influential men 
at his back; Professor Elisha Gray, of Chicago, a 
learned scientist of middle age ; Professor Amos E. 
Dolbear, of Tufts College; and Thomas A. Edison, 
already a well-known and recognized inventor in the 
field of telegraphy. Such was the galaxy of tech- 
nical talent and financial strength against which 
Emile Berliner — be it remembered, still a "counter- 
jumper " in an inconspicuous store in Washington — 
confronted in the struggle for recognition of his 
rights in the United States Patent Office. 

It was in the midst of his uninterrupted experi- 
ments at his rooming-house "laboratory" on Sixth 
Street, Washington, that Berliner about this time 
struck up an acquaintance with the young woman 
who was destined to become, and still is, his life 
partner. Now and then, Berliner would stretch a 


line across the street from his lodgings to the home 
of friendly neighbors named Adler. Eventually he 
met the two attractive daughters of the house, one 
of whom he proceeded to woo and win. It was pio- 
neering in telephony that resulted in Alexander 
Graham Bell and the daughter of Gardiner G. Hub- 
bard becoming man and vriie. Xow, the same sort 
of tinkering with talk transmission was to lead to 
the altar Emile Berliner and Cora Adler. 

One day a messenger boy electrified the clerical 
staff at the Behrend store on Seventh Street by ask- 
ing for Emile Berliner and announcing that the lat- 
ter 's presence was desired at the office of Anthony 
PoUok. PoUok's name was widely known in "Wash- 
ington. A summons to his legal throne was a badge 
of distinction. Berliner's fellow-clerks were cor- 
respondingly impressed. Pollok, like Berliner, was 
European-bom. The inventor found the lawyer to 
be a man of swarthy complexion, keen-eyed and 
adorned with a goatee affected by Frenchmen of the 
era. Pollok talked with directness and decisioru 

"The Bell Telephone Company," he said, going 
straight to the point of the inter\"iew, "is interested 
in your invention. Thomas A. Watson, the superin- 
tendent of the company, w^ould like to come here 
and see your apparatus." 

Berliner was naturally elated over this prima 
facie evidence that he was at last within sight of 
his cherished goal — a close scientific identification 
with the interests which were converting the tele- 


phone from a crudity, the ultimate possibilities of 
which were not yet faintly imagined, into a public 
utility. It was always as a scientist that Berliner 
longed for recognition in the field in which he now 
was an acknowledged pioneer. Amid such emotions 
and secret anticipations he awaited the approaching 
interview T^ith Watson — the man to whom Bell had 
transmitted the first complete and coherent message 
ever telephoned. 

The superintendent of the Bell Company came 
to Washington. It was a tall, energetic, intensely 
practical-looking New Englauder who swung open 
the front door of the Behrend store one dull rainy 
day and proclaimed that he had business there with 
a young person named Emile Berliner. The idhng 
clerks, ''mute, inglorious" like all clerks in humble 
shops since time immemorial, were visibly awed, 
for it was an unusual happening on humdrum 
Seventh Street. The boss gave Berliner time off 
to ''tinker" with his "toys" in his lodgings around 
the corner, as soon as the inventor-clerk disclosed 
the eminent identity of his ^dsitor. Berliner led 
."Watson aromid to the little room on Sixth Street, 
showed him pridefully the magic soap-box, and then 
the pair clattered down the two flights of stairs and 
out to the barn in the rear of the house, to which 
Berliner's "telephone line" ran. 

No other man at that time, unless it was Alex- 
ander Graham Bell himself, was so familiar with 
jthe art of electrical acoustics, and therefore so well 


able to recognize new merit in that realm, as Thomas 
A. "Watson. With his own hands he had shaped the 
original Bell mechanism. He knew what the Bell 
telephone would do. Also, he knew what it would 
not do. While Berliner's apparatus was almost the 
crudest thing imaginable, Watson w^as prepared, by 
the process of elimination, to see at once that here 
was a logical and an entirely novel way of sending 
voice undulations by mre. The Bell telephone 
"wafted" them. But in this new contrivance, after 
being most minutely and perfectly caught, they were 
sent, and the power that sent them could even be 
automatically ''stepped up." Realizing that he was 
inspecting a telephone system that ignored Bell's 
mechanical contrivance entirely, Watson, in far- 
sighted vision, pondered thoughtfully w^hat this 
thing might lead to. After a brief twenty minutes, 
he concluded his visit wdth the impressive words, 
*'We will want that, Mr. Berliner, You will hear 
from us in a few days." 

Watson, returning from Washington, seemed 
convinced that the Bells' hope lay in young Berliner. 
His instrument was unique; he was the originator 
of the continuous current transformer, the only one 
directly apxjlicable to the telephone; he already 
possessed the xmtent for this (which idea was also 
being usurped and utilized by the Bells' menacing 
and aggressive rivals, the Western Union) ; and in 
Berliner's eye Watson detected the glint of genius. 
During the next few weeks a flow of correspondence 


came to Berliner from Watson, Vail and Hubbard, 
pa\dng the way for his eventual connection mth the 
Bell interests. 

In June, 1878, Berliner submitted to the Bell 
Telephone Company through Gardiner G. Hubbard 
at Washington an offer wliich provoked from the 
latter the following reply: 

''Dear Sir: 

*'I received your note two days ago. Your prop- 
osition seems to be fair excepting in regard to the 
time you allow for accepting it. I could not con- 
clude to accept it until I see Mr. Watson, who is at 

'*If you \viU. extend the time and make it six 
weeks, I think Ave can make an arrangement \nth 
you. Until after Congress adjourns, I can not agree 
to attend to any new business. AVill you please 
bring your new telephones to my room? I should 
like to try them mth you." 

The Bell interests had now engaged as their gen- 
eral manager the man who was destined to be of 
profound influence, during the ensuing generation, 
upon telephone and telegraph development. He was 
that masterful ''high voltage" personality, hon 
vivant, and born organizer, Theodore N. Vail, the 
superintendent of the United States Railway Mail 
Service, whose interest in the telephone was first 
aroused by Gardiner G. Hubbard. Vail, now head- 
quartered in New York, was almost Heaven-sent for 
the Bell group's purposes. He had moved with such 
celerity on behalf of his new associates that mthin 


a few weeks his forceful and magnetic methods re- 
sulted in reorganizing their company with genuine 
capital of four hundred and fifty thousand dollars — 
a mint of money for a new enterprise in those days. 
On July 2, 1878, Vail wrote Emile Berliner as 
follows : 

*'I intended to see you when in Washington 
lately in regard to your letter to Mr. Hubbard con- 
cerning your improvements in telephony. 

**I wish you would continue your proposition, 
so as to cover the month of July. During this month 
we can come to some understanding, which will be 
to our mutual advantage. I am speaking now as 
general manager of the Bell Telephone Company. 

"By that time we will have settled our head- 
quarters in New York, and arranged matters now 
pending that will influence to a certain extent any 
arrangement we can make with you as to your enter- 
ing the service of the Company, etc. "We have about 
made arrangements with a company manufactur- 
ing telephone instruments here, for facilities to ex- 
periment, etc. 

''I shall be in Washington by the 16th and will 
see you after my arrival. Please write me whether 
you will consent to this extension of time, etc." 

A week after receipt of Vail's letter, Berliner 
heard from Thomas A. Watson, superintendent of 
the Bell Telephone at Boston, enclosing a money 
order for four dollars and fifty cents, covering the 
cost of certain legal papers, and adding: 

''Our Company is being reorganized and the ex- 
ecutive offices will probably be transferred to New 
York. When that is done, I think some arrange- 


ment will be made with you by which you can enter 
our service." 

On July 17, 1878, true to his pledge. Vail, writ- 
ing Berliner from the Post Office Department in 
Washington, said: 

''What time to-day could I see you for a few 
moments in relation to telephone matters? If you 
could make it convenient to step in my office, I Avould 
not detain you long, and think we could settle on 
some terms." 

Matters now were moving so rapidly in the nego- 
tiations between Berliner and the Bell people — Vail, 
Hubbard and ^Vatson — ^that the coveted contract 
providing for Berliner's entering the Bell com- 
pany's employment was imminent. Bell headquar- 
ters was now at 66 and 68 Reade Street, New York. 
On September 7, 1878, Berliner heard from Hubbard 
at New York in these terms: 

"Mr. Vail returned last night sick, so I have not 
seen him. He sent me a line saying you would be 
here on Monday wdth full copies of your specifica- 
tions. I have written Mr. Watson to come on from 
Boston, to meet you at that time. So if you can not 
come, telegraph what day you will be here. It is, 
however, important that we lose no time." 

It was about at this time that the Western Union, 
with its net of wires spreading across the country 
and its unlimited capital, had decided to enter the 
telephone field. To that end it had begun to put out 
imitation receivers and a battery transmitter de- 
vised by Thomas A. Edison. 


''Give us a good transmitter!" became the cry of 
the Bell Company's eager managers, now almost 
frantic in their efforts to be first in the telephone 
field and thwart the Western Union's bold bid for 
supremacy. The Bells wanted Berliner's ideas, 
and they wanted him. They were rapidly whipping 
their affairs into shape under Vail's energetic gen- 
eralship and, once possessed of a good transmitter, 
were confident of beating back the Western Union's 

Vail was in Washington occasionally during the 
ensuing weeks and met Berliner by appointment. 
The two men, came cordially to like each other. 
Vail's faith in Berliner and in what he could do for 
the telephone gained fresh impetus when he learned 
that a caveat, a supposedly secret paper fully de- 
scribing the microphone, had been deposited by 
Berliner in the Patent Office as early as April 14, 
1877. Vail was impressed too, by the fact that 
this young inventor possessed enough business 
acumen not to disclose the secrets of this docu- 
ment, even under tempting circumstances, until he 
had actually signed a contract with the company. 
Here was manifestly not the average ''impractical 
inventor." Vail discerned, on the contrary, a 
mentality of unusual symmetry. 

How to make a satisfactory agreement on the 
basis of nothing but a prospective patent already 
blocked in an "interference" was the difficulty that 
existed when Berliner talked "business" with Vail, 


It showed conclusively that the Bell Company, after 
carefully studying the situation, not only concluded 
that Berliner's conception of a battery transmitter 
was scientifically correct, but that he had a first- 
class chance to prevail in the Patent Office. 
David Edward Hughes, in England, had only a short 
time before sustained the Berliner idea in his ex- 
periments wdth loose contacts. All this, and the 
transformer patent which Berliner already pos- 
sessed, made the latter entirely too valuable a man 
for tlie Bells to lose. 

Hence, by September they made Berliner the 
kind of offer that appealed to him. Unknown to 
his friends or employer, a two-day trip which he 
made to New York that month was for the express 
purpose of signing an agreement with the Bell Com- 
pany. It provided for a moderate salary and a 
royalty on export transmitters. All that Berliner 
was able to turn over to the Company was the con- 
trol of his caveats, and his patent applications that 
were still pending in the Patent Office, as well as the 
use of his induction coil, or transformer, patent. 
Several years afterward the Bell Company paid 
Berliner a lump sum and largely increased his 
annual retainer, which took the place of salary, be- 
cause he later left Boston and went to work for him- 



THROUGHOUT his seven American years of 
stress, struggle and final success, Emile Ber- 
liner had never known a day of illness worthy of 
the name. But now the cumulative effect of physical 
and mental strain was to exact inevitable toU from 

Behind the young inventor lay eighteen months 
of tremendous effort. He had experimented cease- 
lessly and intensively with his telephone apparatus. 
He had, virtually unaided, taken the first hurdles at 
the United States Patent Office. He had weathered 
a maiden experience with "Big Business." Always 
a conscientious purveyor of gents' furnishings and 
bookkeeper at the Behrend store, he had burned the 
candle at both ends, employing each and every mo- 
ment off duty in tinkering and toying vrith. the mech- 
anism so soon destined to revolutionize human inter- 

The word play found no place in Emile Ber- 
liner's lexicon. His absorption in things scientific 
was complete. It found constant expression in 
letters to his kith and kin in Germany. Once a 
brother in Hanover wrote sternly to admonish 



Emile against pursuing the elusive shadow of tele- 
phony at the expense of the tangible substance of 
dry goods, which was affording him an honest 

Almost immediately after the realization of his 
supreme ambition in associating himself with the 
Bell interests in September, 1878, Berliner suffered 
a breakdown. Xerves ordinarily taut now tired and 
relaxed. Then came exhaustion, and, finally, col- 
lapse. Berliner was just back from his conclusive 
visit Avith the Bell group in Xew York when he 
fainted in his lodgings at Washington. A weari- 
some period of illness ensued. 

He was now to pay the price of his long vigil 
of strangeness and loneliness in a new land. He had 
never kno^ii in America the caressing influence of 
a home enviromnent, nor the stimulus that is born 
of intimate relationshixDs "\\'ith confident friends. In 
the Behrend store, surrounded by sordid indiffer- 
ence toward the higher things which were engaging 
his thought, the inventor was perforce compelled to 
conceal his hopes, to suppress his dreams and gen- 
erally to erase his real self in order that it might 
fit into the workaday scheme within which bread- 
and-butter requirements pinioned him. It was those 
psychological conditions, as much as actual wear 
and tear in a physical sense, that sentenced Emile 
Berliner to an enforced period of inactivity and 
correspondingly irksome sojourn in a sickbed. 
Through the mndow of his room in Providence Hos- 


pital he could glimpse the glittering white dome of 
the Capitol, and he derived fresh hope and deter- 
mination from that inspiring symbol of the land of 

For six weeks he was a patient at Providence. 
News of Berliner's contract mth the Bell interests 
had spread through the scientific world at AVash- 
ington and among Berliner's narrow circle of 
friends. Among the first to congratulate him was 
Mr. Solomons, the book dealer who, the year pre- 
vious, had brought Berliner and his work to the at- 
tention of Professor Joseph Henry, at the Smithson- 
ian Institution. "It affords me sincere pleasure to 
learn," wrote Mr. Solomons, ''that your merits as 
an inventor have at last been recognized in a sub- 
stantial manner, and I can assure you it will always 
be gratifying to me to hear of your continued suc- 

The daughters of the Solomons house, who are 
to-day among the distinguished women of Washing- 
ton, perpetuate the family friendship with Emile 
Berliner, who looks upon their father as one of his 
earliest benefactors. 

From his new associates of the Bell Telephone 
Company, words of encouragement were not lack- 
ing, either. "I am very sorry to hear of your sick- 
ness," wrote Gardiner G. Hubbard, from New York, 
on October 1, 1878, "and trust it will not be of long 

Theodore N. Vail, General Manager of the Bell 


Telephone Company, was one of Berliner's periodi- 
cal \dsitors at Providence Hospital. That visible 
evidence of the Bell Company's interest in their 
new collaborator was as medicine and fresh air to 
the prostrate inventor. Buoyant, optimistic, dy- 
namic, Vail was an unfailing tonic. His bedside 
calls, invariably marked by encouraging prophecies 
of Berliner's future in the telephone field, acted like 
electric energy poured into a run-do^Ti battery: 
Vail's \'isits helped materially to fortify the patient 
against the depressing dictum of physicians that 
Berliner should not resume work for a whole year. 
That advice had all the annihilating effect of a 
prison sentence on the eager young scientist, now 
longing more impatiently than ever to travel the 
path of opportunity that at last was opened to him. 
Since those formative days, forty-eight years 
ago, Emile Berliner has had one or two other nerv- 
ous breakdo^\^ls. Yet, past seventy-five, he contends 
that his nerve structure is more rugged than at any 
previous time in his life. "When asked how he over- 
came his first collapse and by the same methods 
triumphed over later ones, Berliner clenches his 
fists, grits his teeth, snaps into a setting-up posture, 
and says: "Just like this — by holding on! — and by 
a fiiTu confidence that proper rest always effects 
eventual cure. ' ' 

Berliner's theory, time-tried and experience- 
tested, is that nervous breakdowns as such are 
purely physiological. ' ' Under a continuous strain, ' ' 


he explains, "the sheathing of the nerve fibers 
becomes sore and more or less inflamed. In that con- 
dition they affect the brain and give rise to morbid, 
pessimistic and even suicidal thoughts. If one will 
only be patient and give the system a chance to 
pull itself together under more favorable conditions, 
nerves will become as strong again as they were 
before collapse." 

The solicitude of Gardiner G. Hubbard and 
Theodore N. Vail for the speedy recovery of Emile 
Berliner was bom of something more than genu- 
inely sympathetic and sincere interest in his health. 
In the letter expressing hope that he would soon be 
up and about, Hubbard had written: ''Mr. Watson's 
view is that we should take immediate steps for 
having your invention patented in Great Britain 
and Canada, and I will prepare and forward the 
necessary papers for you to sign in a day or two." 

Unbeknown to Berliner himself, he had become 
an almost indispensable factor in the Bell Telephone 
Company's calculations. Indeed, what he had in- 
vented, and that which the Bells acquired from 
him — the control of Berliner's caveats and patent 
applications, as well as the use of his induction coil 
patent — seemed to be the rocks to which the whole 
Bell enterprise was about to clifig for security and 
for the realization of its uncharted future. 

After Alexander Graham Bell had obtained the 
patent for his telephone invention, he and Watson 
continued to improve it, until they reached a point 


at which they thought it could be sold to the West- 
ern Union Telegraph Company. The Bell patent 
rights were offered to the Western Union for one 
hundred thousand dollars, which was **real money" 
half a century ago. That already great corpora- 
tion was the logical agency for turning the telephone 
to practical purposes. But the management of the 
Western Union (later headed by Theodore N. Vail) 
was not so astute or far-seeing as its successors, and 
it rejected the Bell-Watson proposition. It did not 
want the Bell telephone — ^that is to say, it did not 
covet the prize as yet. 

Later, when the patent's immeasurable possibil- 
ities were grasped, the Western Union of that day 
simply decided to annex it more or less by main 
force. Millions of capital and shrewd captains of 
finance stood behind the company. It did not seri- 
ously occur to the Western Union high command 
that a little thing like Bell's patent — *'a mere scrap 
of paper" — could impede the progress of the 
colossus that now occupied, almost unchallenged, 
the field of electrical communication. The Bell Com- 
pany 's position seemed all the more contemptible 
and defenseless, from the standpoint of the Western 
Union, in view of its financial weakness. "The 
giant expected to crush the pigmy with a blow," 
records Albert Bigelow Paine in his biography of 
Theodore N. Vail {In One Man's Life). "The pop- 
ularity of the telephone grew amazingly," writes 
Paine, "and the demand for instruments increased 


^^— — »«-^'^^— **^— — ^— — ^— i— ^■^^■^^— ^■^— — — — i— ^— ^— ™— — — — — 

beyond the limits of the Bell Company to manufac- 
ture, and especially beyond its ability to purchase. 
The company was constantly on the verge of bank- 
ruptcy, through its prosperity." 

But in addition to its slender capital resources, 
the Bell Company seemed vulnerable, in the West- 
em Union's eyes, because of the technical impres- 
sion the Bell telephone itself made. It was very 
remote from perfection. One still required to shout 
into it, and often to repeat the shouts several times, 
to be heard or miderstood. The magneto transmitter 
in particular was so primitive — ^more designed, as 
Watson himself admitted on a later occasion, "to 
develop the American voice and lungs than to pro- 
mote conversation." The thing seemed indeed so 
utterly crude that the Western Union persuaded it- 
self it would not have to face a serious competitor 
for some time to come. So for its technical pur- 
pose, the company leagued three of the best-known 
electrical inventors of the day — Thomas A. Edison, 
Elisha Gray and Amos E. Dolbear — and, under the 
name of the American Speaking Telephone Com- 
pany, proceeded to drive at full speed into the field 
of telephony. With a bluster destined to cost it 
dearly a few years later, the company proclaimed 
that it possessed "the only original telephone," 
flouting Bell's rights as if they had never existed. 
"The fact that all three of its inventors, Edison, 
Gray and Dolbear, had each and severally fully ac- 
knowledged Bell's rights apparently was little re- 


garded, especially as Gray and Dolbear were now 
quite willing to repudiate such acknowledgments 
and assert prior claims."* 

By a singular coincidence, Edison's patent ap- 
plication for a flat disk transmitter was filed at the 
United States Patent Office in Washington just thir- 
teen days after Berliner deposited there his caveat 
for the microphone. Mr. Edison for some years had 
maintained his own well-equipped laboratories and 
was now fully prepared to aid and abet the Western 
Union in its raid for priority. It should be observed, 
in passing, that the Western Union Telegraph Com- 
pany of 1926 is a wholly different enterprise, in 
respect of policy, personnel and management, from 
the organization which so adventurously embarked 
upon the uncharted sea of telephony in 1879. 

* 'Lessees of Bell telephones," writes Herbert N. 
Casson {History of the Telephone), ** clamored with 
one voice for a transmitter as good as Edison's. 
This, of course, could not be had in a moment, and 
the five months that followed were the darkest days 
in the childhood of the telephone. How to compete 
with the Western Union, which had this superior 
transmitter, a host of agents, a network of wires, 
forty million dollars of capital, and a first claim 
upon all newspapers, hotels, railroads, and rights 
of way — that was the immediate problem that con- 
fronted Theodore N. Vail, the Bell's new general 

*ln One Man's Life, page 102. 


manager. Several of his captains deserted, and he 
was compelled to take control of their unprofitable 
exchanges. There was scarcely a mail that did not 
bring him some bulletin of discouragement or de- 

But the *'Big Four" now in charge of Bell for- 
tunes — Bell himself, Watson, Hubbard and Vail — 
had no notion of giving up the ship. On the contrary, 
the Liliputians determined to strike the Western 
Union a blow that would go straight to the vitals of 
the onrushing Gulliver. To that end they put a dis- 
cerning finger on the pulse of their distressful situa- 
tion — ^they must secure a transmitter that would 
outclass the lampblack transmitter developed by 
Edison, which was now in so serious danger of mak- 
ing the Western Union's telephone apparatus more 
popular than Bell's mechanism. The public, it was 
realized, cared nothing about patent rights. What 
it wanted was telephone service. It was ready to 
subscribe for the most efficient instruments it could 
get, no matter whence they came. 

It was in the midst of this threatened submerg- 
ence by the Western Union avalanche that Emile 
Berliner came within the Bell Telephone Company's 
orbit with a.11 the providential effectiveness of a life- 
saver. Then and thus it was that Watson, at Vail's 
instigation, had sought out Berliner in Washington, 
consequential upon the initial interview with Pollok, 
the patent lawyer; had inspected the inventor's 
little soap-box microphone and spoken those 

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words — ^prophetic for Berliner and, as time was to 
show, of literally vital importance to the Bells: 
^^ Young man, ive will want thats You will hear from 
us in a few days. ' ' 

Six weeks elapsed between the consummation of 
Berliner's agreement with the Bell interests, fol- 
lowed by his breakdown in Washington, and the 
commencement of his service under the employment 
contract. In November, 1878, against the urgent 
advice of his physician, he proceeded to New York 
for that purpose. The Bell Telephone Company's 
headquarters at 66 and 68 Eeade Street occupied 
only half of a second floor. The equipment was of 
Spartan simplicity, consisting all told of two or 
three plain deal desks and chairs — the forerunner of 
the marble pile that is now at 195 Broadway. 

In that modest environment — the cradle of the 
mighty **Bell System" of this day — Theodore N. 
Vail was organizing the affairs of the company with 
steam-engine zeal. He had only one assistant — a 
certain R. W. Devonshire — who sent out in longhand 
all of the correspondence. Typewriters had not yet 
emerged. Emile Berliner's accomplishments, dat- 
ing from schooldays in Hanover, included uncom- 
mon skill in Spencerian penmanship, of which, at 
seventy-five, he is still a master, so Vail, for the time 
being, commandeered his services as a general util- 
ity man in the Bell offices. 

It was about this time that Francis Blake, of 
Boston, a scientist formerly attached to the United 


States Geodetic Survey at Washington, designed an 
ingenious modification of the Berliner loose contact 
microphone. He had been working on it at the Will- 
iams electrical shop in Boston in an effort to put it 
into practical condition, and eventually sold it to the 
Bell Company. Figuring out microphonic action 
was a deep and intricate problem — one that took 
about all the strength and ingenuity a man pos- 
sessed, for it was at this stage of his experiments 
that Francis Blake, like Berliner a little while 
before, was prostrated by a nervous breakdown, 
with his work unfinished. 

The value of the Blake transmitter modification 
lay in an ingenious suspension, on two flat springs, 
of a hard carbon button and a bead of platinum in 
such a way that the two would not easily separate 
when vibrated by the diaphragm against which they 
leaned. When carefully adjusted and addressed by 
a trained speaker the Blake transmitter would work 
very well. But it took practise to talk into it, and, 
if adjusted in the evening, it might be entirely out of 
adjustment the next morning. Of course, such an 
instrument was entirely unfit to be placed in com- 
mission. It was at this precise period that Ber- 
liner's important and practical work for the Bell 
Company commenced. 

As the days sped by and the Western Union chal- 
lenge remained unmet, the Bell agents became more 
and more insistent upon securing a good battery 
transmitter because whenever the Western Union 


Company came to prospective subscribers for tele- 
phone service with lampblack transmitters, these 
proved superior to the Bell magneto transmitter. 
The situation, already acute, now threatened to be- 
come critical. At the end of January, 1879, Vail 
and Watson decided to send Berliner to Boston, 
to take up his experimental duties at the company 's 
laboratory in the Williams shop and finish Blake's 
work while the latter was sick abed. In the incred- 
ibly brief period of six weeks Berliner perfected 
the Blake transmitter, so that two hundred instru- 
ments could be made in a day, and, once adjusted, 
would remain so indefinitely. 

The American Telephone and Telegraph Com- 
pany of this day retains in its archives an account 
written by Emile Berliner narrating in detail what 
had to be done in order to save the ingenious Blake 
form of transmitter from being a pronounced fail- 
ure. The account is of so historic importance in the 
development of telephony, and of so absorbing inter- 
est to all students of electrical apparatus, who 
nowadays include ''radio fans," that it has been 
deemed worth}'' of reproduction as an appendix to 
this volume. (See page 314.) It shows what keen 
and exact reasoning a successful inventor must 
apply in order to accomplish his purposes. Inciden- 
tally, it visualizes the condition into which the bud- 
ding art of telephony had fallen. 

''The status of the Blake transmitter, when I 
took hold of it," wrote Emile Berliner, "was, briefly, 


that it was not possible to make twelve transmitters 
alike good, and when these were adjusted at night, 
they were out of adjustment the next morning." 
Berliner's plodding efforts eventually detected the 
flaws in the Blake mechanism. As soon as Berliner 
reported that it had been perfected, orders were 
given that two hundred a day should be made. Ber- 
liner himself, with his assistant, Eichards, tested 
each of them minutely. Once adjusted, they re- 
mained in first-class working order. Berliner per- 
sonally inspected and tested the first twenty thou- 
sand transmitters for the Bell Company. Then that 
branch of the business was turned over to Richards. 
Thereafter the inventor devoted himself to research 
work for the Bell Company and assisted Professor 
Charles E-. Cross, of the Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology, in the exhaustive experiments which 
the latter conducted for James J. Storrow in support 
of that patent lawyer's astute defense of the Bell- 
Berliner patents and of his unceasing attack upon 

The Blake transmitter as perfected by Berliner 
was vastly superior to the Edison lampblack trans- 
mitter, which was being put out by the rival tele- 
phone concern, the Gold and Stock Telegraph Com- 
pany, for use of subscribers. This was a subsidiary 
of the Western Union, specially organized and oper- 
ated for the benefit of stock-brokerage houses which 
had their own telegraph operators. Momentous 
events in the telephone world were now brewing. 


They were to demonstrate that Berliner's work 
saved the day for the Bell Company, though not un- 
til after the contenders for supremacy in the tele- 
phone field had fought a long and costly duel in the 
arena of the highest courts of the republic. 

Nearly all of us whose memory runs back to the 
earliest telephones in general use will recall that 
Berliner 's name appeared prominently on the Blake 
transmitter affixed to the wooden box telephones of 
that ancient era. The author remembers vividly 
the first telephones installed in his native La 
Porte, Indiana, that "Maple City" which nestles so 
picturesquely in the northwestern Hoosier county 
lapped by the waters of Lake Michigan. He recalls 
the invincible skepticism of an eighty-year-old 
La Porte grandmother, who had never learned 
to speak English. A grandson, of whom she was 
especially fond, had learned German to please her. 
Because he was attorney for the local Bell Company, 
some of the first instruments installed in La Porte 
were placed in his office and her home. The 
young lawyer's opening conversation was held with 
his grandmother in her language. The astonished 
and somewhat affrighted octogenarian remarked 
later in the day, after recovering her equilibrium, 
that she didn't think it a particularly wonder- 
ful thing that Amerikaner should have invented 
something enabling English to be talked by wire. 
But that they had discovered a device whereby 
German could be spoken by telephone — tJiat, the 


old lady insisted, was positively the last word in the 
way of a scientific marvel — Kolosjsall 

The author, many years afterward long sta- 
tioned in Berlin as a newspaper correspondent, sel- 
dom said Wer dortf (Who's there? — the German 
equivalent for Hello) over the Kaiser's telephone 
lines without recalling with a smile the La Porte 
grandmother's quaint tribute to what Bell and Ber- 
liner between them had wrought, 



BEELINER'S completion of the telephone placed 
the Bell Company in an extremely strong posi- 
tion not only by virtue of Bell's own broad patents, 
but also because the company now possessed incom- 
parably the best instruments of the day. But as 
triumph is ever the mother of contention, the Bells 
speedily found themselves ambushed on all sides. 
They were on the threshold of attack, intrigue and 
rivalry that were to eventuate in lawsuits literally 
by the hundred, and to cost them in defensive mea- 
sures more than a million of money and more than 
a decade of precious time. Before their herculean 
struggle for self-preservation was to end, they were 
to combat none other than the government of the 
United States of America itself. 

The Bell telephone, of w^hich the Berliner trans- 
mitter had now become a vitally integral part, was, 
in short, face to face with a fight for its life. No 
stone of recourse or of resource available to capital, 
legal acumen or human unscrupulousness Avas to be 
left unturned, to accomplish the ruin, first, of Bell, 
the inventor, and, then, of Berliner, the perfecter of 
the telephone. 



The illimitable commercial possibilities of the 
new art were no longer in doubt. To "get rich 
quick" out of them, by hook or by crook, became the 
obsessing passion alike of recognized captains of in- 
dustry and of piratical adventurers. 

Telephony accordingly ushered in one of those 
*' booms" which, in recurring cycles, fever the imagi- 
nations of the American people. Once it was gold 
that set men crazy ; then, silver ; in a more modern 
time, oil; latterly, Florida land. In the early 
'eighties it was telephony. All over the country 
men were suddenly fired with the notion that Bell 
and Berliner had opened up a field that could be 
fabulously exploited by any one with a smattering 
of mechanical ingenuity and the enterprise to launch 
a wildcat stock- jobbing campaign. 

To the more ruthless, the new field even held out 
the inviting possibihties of successful blackmail. In 
one form or another, the Bell group soon found it- 
self called upon to baffle a long conspiracy of malice, 
envy and greed mthout parallel in business and 
legal history, measured in terms of the rich prize 
at stake and the duration of the contest. No fewer 
than six hundred defensive lawsuits were fought 
up to May 10, 1897, when the United States Supreme 
Court finally placed its historic hallmark, for all 
time, upon the validity of the Bell-Berliner patents 
and pronounced them unassailable. 

Athwart the Bell's path lay primarily the West- 
em Union Telegraph Company. Through its sub- 


sidiary, the Gold and Stock Telegraph Company, 
the Western Union had boldly invaded the telephone 
field. It commanded eminent engineering talent — 
Edison, Gray and Dolbear; o\\Tied a far-flung net- 
work of wires (all overhead in those days), and was 
ready to link the whole comitry into a sj^stem of 
telephone ** central" stations and subscribers. Its 
next objective was to crush the only serious com- 
petitor in sight, the Bell Telephone Company. As 
an ally in that campaign, the Western Union found 
ready to hand the budding "granger movement" in 
the rural West, with its insensate hatred and fear 
of anything savoring of a *' monopoly." So the 
Western Union interests of that day moved Heaven 
and earth to turn the anti-monopoly guns to its own 
uses and against the Bell Telephone Company. Con- 
gress and the press were ruthlessly exploited for 
the purpose. 

The Western Union first trotted out Elisha Gray 
as the Simon-pure inventor of the telephone and 
forthwith began infringement proceedings against 
the Bell Company. The palpable pui^ose was to 
terrify the Bell group into a tame submission. The 
case began in the fall of 1878 and ended dramati- 
cally a year later on the advice of George Gifford, 
the Western Union 's chief counsel, who notified his 
clients, point-blank, that Alexander Graham Bell 
was the unchallengeable inventor of the telephone. 
He advised them to sue for peace on the best terms 
the Bells would grant. 


Months of conference finally resulted in a give- 
and-take arrangement. The Western Union agreed, 
under a covenant to run for seventeen years: 

(1) To acknowledge Bell as the original inventor 
of the telephone. 

(2) To concede that his patents were unassail- 

(3) To quit the telephone field. 
On their part, the Bells agreed: 

(1) To purchase the Western Union telephone 

(2) To grant the Western Union twenty per cent, 
royalty on all rentals of telephones. 

(3) To stay out of the telegraph field. 

The Western Union having met its Waterloo, the 
Bell system came definitely and formally into its 
own as the standard, recognized and indisputable 
telephone organization of the country. Its stock 
sky-rocketed to one thousand dollars a share. Theo- 
dore N. Vail, the generalissimo of the whole trium- 
phant crusade, reorganized the company, and in 
1882, within three years of the victory over the 
Western Union, Bell Telephone gross earnings ex- 
ceeded one million dollars. But the company's 
trials, especially its legal tribulations, were far 
from over. Once again Elisha Gray thrust himself 
into the picture. Not content to accept the defeat 
administered to the Western Union in 1879, he re- 
asserted his claim to be the original inventor of the 


The paths of Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha 
Gray had been running close together and in almost 
parallel lines for nearly ten years. In 1874 they 
were both engaged in a contest to invent the first 
harmonic telegraph. Gray held to that as his ob- 
jective. But Bell turned to telephony. Yet each had 
always at the back of his head the notion of 
sending speech by wire. Thereupon ensued, as one 
of the freaks of Patent Office history, an amazing 
coincidence, Bell and Gray, utterly unbekno^vn to 
each other, selected the same day, on which to file, 
respectively, an application for a patent and a 
caveat on the identical subject. It was St. Valen- 
tine's Day — a stormy Monday, the fourteenth of 
February, 1876. Bell reached the Patent Office first, 
according to the book of record, in which as ''Cash 
Entry No. 5" stood the legend: *'A. G. Bell, $15." 
Entry No. 39 read: '^E. Gray, $10." 

There was thus not only the documentary record 
of Bell's chronological priority, but an even more 
vital difference in the fact that Bell filed an applica- 
tion for a patent, while Gray had submitted only a 
caveat. When a man files an application for a 
patent, he declares that he has completed the inven- 
tion. Gray's lawsuits were all unsuccessful. He 
was rebuffed at every turn. 

Following Gray, as challenger of the Bell pat- 
ents, came Professor Amos E. Dolbear, of Tufts 
College. Dolbear contended that he had ''im- 
proved" the telephonic device originated by the 


German, Philip Reis, of Frankfort, in 1861. But 
Dolbear's claims, like Elislia Gray's, were not up- 
held. The famous court decision which rejected 
them observed: "To follow Reis is to fail; but to 
follow Bell is to succeed." It was testified during 
the suit that Dolbear's telephone ''would squeak, but 
not speak." 

Even with the scalps of the Western Union, Gray 
and Dolbear dangling at its belt, the Bell Telephone 
Company was to have no immunity from attack. 
Telephony was making fortunes overnight forty 
years ago, as oil and Florida land have created 
milUonaires in our day. That was why the Bells 
were to know no peace at the hands of financial ad- 
venturers, shyster lawyers and fake inventors. 

There now bounded into the arena of coveted 
booty one Daniel Drawbaugh, resident of a Penn- 
sylvania country town, whose yokel origin at first 
aroused only the contempt of the Bell lawyers. But 
Drawbaugh persisted with his claim to have invented 
and used a telephone several years prior to its inven- 
tion by Alexander Graham Bell. Dangling before 
their eyes the prospects of millions in tribute to be 
extorted from the Bell Company if he could establish 
his pretensions, Drawbaugh induced a group of 
Washington bankers to form the ''People's Tele- 
phone Company." He persuaded these credulous 
angels to finance, at vast cost to themselves, litiga- 
tion that dragged through several years. But once 
again the colors of the Bell System emerged vie- 


torious. Drawbaugli turned out to be a village 
tinker, with a weird mania for patterning the latest 
kink in mechanics and grandiloquently claiming the 
result as an earlier creation of his own. The de- 
cision throwing Drawbaugh's case out of court 
censured him for '* deliberately falsifying the 

The Bell group now wore an obviously indisput- 
able championship belt in the field of telephony, but 
challengers continued to bob up as the years rolled 
by and as the success of the Bell System was aug- 
mented. The Drawbaugh debacle was followed by 
a sally ventured by the *' Overland Company," 
which strung wires and sold stock on the strength 
of them. The Overland attack was sufficiently per- 
sistent to depress the stock of the Bell Telephone 
Company and to carry its patent suit to the United 
States Supreme Court, finally to be dismissed in 
that tribunal. 



IT SHOULD not be supposed that during all these 
thrilling years of strife, development and tri- 
umph in telephony Emile Berliner's microphone 
patent application was having smooth sailing. It 
was, in fact, perpetually entangled in a serious ''in- 
terference" at the United States Patent Office. 
Its legitimacy was constantly challenged, and its is- 
suance correspondingly blocked by rival inventors 
backed by the strong corporations anxious to enter 
the telephone field or to develop sufficient ''nuisance 
value" to be bought up at profit to themselves by 
the Bell Company. Fourteen years of these obstruc- 
tive tactics ensued, despite incessant efforts upon 
the part of the owners of Berliner's rights, the Bell 
Telephone Company, to checkmate them. 

In consequence of all this, it was not until No- 
vember 17, 1891, that the Patent Office issued to 
Emile Berliner Patent No. 463,569 in response to 
the application filed by him on June 4, 1877. The 
news of the Patent Office 's action was a sensation in 
the financial and telephone world when conspicu- 
ously published in the newspapers of November 18, 



Bell Telephone — The Berliner Patent Sends 
The Stock To 213 

ran the head-line in the Boston Globe. ''The Ber- 
liner patent," the Globe's financial article said, 
''issued yesterday morning from the Patent Office 
at Washington is, next to the original Bell patent, 
the most important patent in the telephone field ever 
issued. It covers every known form of battery 
transmitter, the mechanical device behind the 
mouthpiece of the ordinary 'long-distance' trans- 
mitter. The announcement that the Berliner patent 
was issued sent Bell Telephone stock flying, and 
from 198, yesterday's latest sale, the price shot up, 
reaching 213 as top notch. . . . We think it safe to 
say, though we do not knotv that any of the Bell 
Telephone directors, or officials ivill agree tvith the 
statement, that this Berliner patent is of more com- 
mercial value tlian the original Bell TelepJione 
patent J ^ 

In a Washington despatch dated November 18, 
1891, the day following the issuance of Berliner's 
patent, the Chicago Inter-Ocean said : 

*'A curious computation was made by experts 
about the Patent Office to-day as to the value of the 
Berliner patent to the Bell Company. The capital 
stock of that company being $15,000,000 and the 
maximum rise in the stock 30 points, it follows that 
the value of the Berliner microphone patent, as de- 
termined by stock quotations, is $5,000,000. On this 
basis, by computation, the patent added one-third 


to the value of the Bell Telephone Company's capi- 
tal stock." 

It was immediately realized by all concerned that 
the issuance of the Berliner microphone patent 
meant the continuance for seventeen more years 
(namely, until November 17, 1908) of the Bell Tele- 
phone monopoly, which up to that time had been 
maintained solely by the Bell, Edison and Blake 
patents. The public was astonished to learn that a 
patent had now been issued to the Bell Company, 
covering in the broadest possible terms the identical 
microphone transmitter for which telephone sub- 
scribers had been paying rentals for thirteen years, 
under which new patent the company would be en- 
titled to exact a continuance of the same rentals for 
the same instrument for seventeen years longer. 
This consummation, which was of priceless value 
to the Bell interests, caused a furore in the country. 
It found vociferous expression in an indignant 
press. The Bell Company was now accused of hav- 
ing deliberately and illegitimately contrived to keep 
Berliner's microphone patent, applied for June 4, 
1877, pending in the Patent Office since its acquire- 
ment from the patentee in 1878. 

Encouraged by the public agitation thus en- 
gendered, and fomented by a group of ambitious 
pohticians, mostly of southern origin, the Pan-Elec- 
tric Company was organized with a capital of five 
million dollars for the ostensible purpose of sub- 
stantiating the so-called ''modification patents" 


issued to one Rogers. With these as their basis, the 
men behind the Pan-Electric Company, on the eve 
of the second Cleveland administration in 1893, in- 
duced the Federal Government to bring suit for the 
annulment of the Bell-Berliner patents on the 
ground that they had been obtained by fraud. 

General Joseph E. Johnston, the distinguished 
Confederate officer, and hero of Manassas, was 
president of the Pan-Electric. A former United 
States Senator, Augustus H. Garland, of Arkansas, 
who had been attornej^-general of the United States 
in the first Cleveland Cabinet a few years previous, 
was the company's counsel. United States Senator 
Isham G. Harris, of Tennessee, was one of its direc- 
tors. Johnston, Garland and Harris were public 
men of spotless integrity. Their identification with 
the new crusade against the Bell Telephone Com- 
pany sufficed to give the Pan-Electric case a serious 

"United States of America v. American Bell 
Telephone Company and Emile Berliner" there- 
upon became the title of a bill in equity filed in the 
Circuit Court of the United States in and for the 
District of Massachusetts on February 1, 1893. It 
prayed a decree to set aside and cancel the Berliner 
microphone patent issued on November 17, 1891, and 
now the property of the Bell Company as assignee 
of Berliner. 

The first round in these proceedings was lost by 
the Bell Company — its maiden defeat in its long and 


fierce cycle of litigation. On January 3, 1895, the 
Circuit Court at Boston entered the decree prayed 
for by the Government. But the Bells still had on 
their fighting togs, and, battle-scarred as they were, 
they waded afresh into the legal fray, this time dog- 
gedly to defend the ingenious invention of Emile 
Berliner. On their appeal to the Court of Appeals 
the decree in favor of the Government was reversed 
on May 18, 1895, and a decree entered, directing a 
dismissal of the Government's bill. Thereupon the 
Government, no less determined to mn, took an ap- 
peal to the United States Supreme Court. A motion 
was made by the Bells to dismiss the appeal for 
want of jurisdiction. But this was denied, where- 
upon the case proceeded to argument upon its 

The background for the litigation had been more 
than three years in the making. The sort of popular 
virulence in which the vendetta against Berliner's 
invention was first conceived is typified by the fol- 
lowing editorial published in the Rochester (N. Y.) 
Herald of December 4, 1891, a fortnight after the 
sensational issue of the Berliner patent at "Wash- 
ington : 

**For a long time prior to November 17th the 
stock of the Bell Telephone Company stood at or 
near $180. For about a week preceding that date, it 
advanced some three or four dollars. On the Friday 
before, there were sales at $193 ; Monday it had gone 
up to $198, and on the day the Berliner patent was 
issued, the stock reached $210. 


''These quotations show that people inside the 
Bell combination knew what was going on at the 
Patent OflSce, confirming opinion long held by many 
that the Bell Company had altogether too confiden- 
tial relations with that office. The Boston Journal 
says: 'The patent virtually secures that Company 
for another seventeen years in the control of its 
present enormous business.' The Boston Herald 
says: 'It is claimed that the patent covers every 
known form of battery transmitter.' 

"It will be seen from these statements by the 
papers of Boston, which is the home of the Bell 
Company, that the monopoly expects to retain its 
grip upon this country for seventeen years longer. 
It has sought to accomplish this result hy the dis- 
Jionorahle trick of keeping up a sham contest in the 
Patent Office over the Berliner application through 
the past fourteen years. That such proceedings are 
possible in a bureau of the national government is a 
fact discreditable to the officials of that bureau dur- 
ing the period named and an outrage on the people 
of the United States. The time has come for a com- 
plete revolution in that office and a change in the 
laws bearing upon this question. 

"But it is possible, we might say probable, that 
the Bell Company will reach its Waterloo in the 
great battle that \\i\\ be fought in the courts over 
this very Berliner patent. Bell's original patent 
expires with the term of the English patent in 
1892. . . . The public will follow the further devel- 
opment of this matter with interest. If, in the face 
of all the evidence against the validity of the Ber- 
liner claim to originality, the United States courts 
should again decide in favor of this powerful 
monopoly, these courts must expect to suffer in the 
esteem of the enlightened public even more than 
they have as a residt of the litigation already had on 
this question. But the public, in any event, should 
insist upon such a change in the patent system as 


will make the scandalous history of the Berliner 
clai^n in the Patent Office hereafter impossible." 

In bringing suit for nullification of the Berliner 
patent, the Attorney General of the United States 
(then William H. H. Miller) virtually identified him- 
self with the innuendoes in popular circulation and 
which are characterized by the newspaper article 
above quoted. James J. Storrow, of Boston, the 
learned chief counsel engaged to defend Berliner's 
rights, in the course of the brief he filed in the Su- 
preme Court, thus stigmatized the action of the 
Federal law authorities : 

"Naturally, accusations of fraud, made over the 
signature of the head of the Department of Justice, 
are of themselves a grievous injury to the persons 
charged. For the public assumes that such accusa- 
tions will not be made until the subject has been ex- 
haustively examined, and in a fairly impartial 
manner; and they ought not to be made until then. 
This is especially so when the attempt is made to 
throw the heavy hand of the government upon the 
side of what is really a contest between patentee and 
infringers. This suit, hotvever, appears on the com- 
plainant's own papers, to be in large part, at least, 
an ill-considered and unjustifiable assault.'* 

In such an atmosphere began the epic of Emile 
Berliner's fight for vindication of his inventive 
rights in the republic's court of last resort. It 
had been preceded, as has been shown, by years of 
furious legal strife. '* Interwoven in the story of 
the golden growth of the telephone," wrote John 


Paul Bocock in ''The Romance of the Telephone" 
(Munsey's Magazine, November, 1900), ''are so 
marvelous oaths, such charges of corruption and 
treachery, such tales of ruin and oppression, such 
accusations against men high in the public esteem, 
such sacrifices of truth and honor, such disappoint- 
ments and defeats of the many who have sought to 
share the reward of the one, that the bare relation 
of them all, were that possible, would surpass any 
romance ever written." 



EMILE BERLINER was now to become the tar- 
get of a fusillade of slings and arrows, as 
outrageous as any of the fortunes already suffered 
by the telephone pioneers. The Government 's bill in 
equity bluntly sought to rob him of the fruits of his 
genius by branding him a fraud. It asked the 
Supreme Court to adjudge that the Berliner patent 
of November 17, 1891, was ^'nuU and void"; that it 
was "wrongfully procured to be issued by means of 
fraud, false suggestion, concealment and imposition 
on the part of the Bell Telephone Company and 
Emile Berliner"; that there was "nothing in said 
patent which contained or disclosed, or in any man- 
ner set forth," by reason of which there could be 
secured to the defendants "any monopoly of any 
patentable invention or discovery whatever"; and 
that all persons interested under that patent "ought 
to have known, and did know" that the patent was 

On the strength of this scathing indictment, the 
Government's bill prayed that the Berliner patent 
should be cancelled and that the Government "and 



all the people of the United States be in all things 
restored and reinstated, as nearly as may be, to the 
actual condition and state existing prior to the 
issue" of the patent. If the Supreme Court found 
that the Berliner patent was not wholly void, the 
Government asked that it **be treated as a contract, 
and be reformed, limited and modified, as in equity 
and good conscience it ought to be." The Govern- 
ment's bill pointed out that Emile Berliner sold the 
invention to the Bell Company before October 23, 
1878, and that the Bell Company was now its sole 
o^vner. But the bill made Berliner a defendant, in 
order that he might appear and be heard, if he 

The '* grounds" offered by the Government in its 
petition for annulment of the Berliner patent were 
five in number, to-wit : 

1. That Berliner never made the invention. 

2. That he was not the first inventor of it. 

3. An alleged defect, in the patent itself, i.e., 
that the described apparatus was not operative. 

4. The long pendency of the application, i.e., 
abandonment in the Patent Office by nonprosecution, 
and alleged defects in the proceedings. 

5. That Berliner's invention was exliausted 
under the doctrine of Miller v. Eagle Manufacturing 
Company, 151 U. S. 186. 

The Government 's proofs in chief began July 10, 
1893, and were finished January 3, 1894. They con- 
sisted of the deposition of Professor George F. 


Barker, expert; of a large amount of documentary 
evidence, chiefly the Berliner file, and other files and 
papers from the Patent Office ; and an offer of other 
oral proof which resulted in an agreed statement of 
certain facts. 

The Bell-Berliner proofs in defense began Oc- 
tober 21, 1893, and closed February 15, 1894. They 
consisted of the depositions of Professor Charles R. 
Cross, expert, with tests of Berliner telephones in 
presence of the complainant Government's experts; 
of Emile Berliner, the inventor ; of John E. Hudson, 
president of the American Bell Telephone Company, 
and of a variety of other witnesses, including an 
imposing array of examiners from the Patent Office. 
The defendants also called Messrs. A. S. Solomons, 
Simon and Gustave Oppenheimer and Alvan S. 
Richards, of Washington, personal friends who had 
intimate knowledge of the history of Berliner's ex- 
periments and invention, and Mr. Coombs, the patent 
solicitor's assistant who drew the original Berliner 

The Government's opening before the Supreme 
Court consisted, on most points, of the barest prima 
facie case. Then the defendants went into the case 
at large, and proved an extensive volume of vitally 
material facts. The Government in rebuttal at- 
tacked only one of those facts — the operativeness of 
the instrument. Counsel for Berliner contended, 
therefore, that it had a right to assume that the 
testimony developed on his behalf on all other points 


could not be disputed. The Government's rebuttal 
testimony that the Berliner instruments ivould not 
talk was overthrown, on cross-examinatioyi, hy talk- 
ing with them from Philadelphia to New York — an 
impressive achievement in those days. 

On May 10, 1897, almost exactly six months after 
the conclusion of the final arguments in the case, 
the decision of the United States Supreme Court 
was handed down by Mr. Justice Brewer. It con- 
stituted an unqualified victorj^ for Emile Berliner. 
It completely rejected and demolished the Govern- 
ment's principal contention — that there had been 
** extraordinary delay" in the United States Patent 
Office in the issuance of the Berliner patent, due to 
corrupt connivance. It left the allegation of fraud 
without a leg, or even a toe, to stand on. There are 
few cases of Supreme Court record, in which the 
United States figures as a litigant, that contain a 
more crushing denunciation of the Government's 

Having pointed out that ''the delay in the Patent 
Office is the great fact in the case; determined the 
bringing of the suit; stands in the forefront of the 
bill; was the principal question argued in both 
courts below, and occupies the chief space in the de- 
cisions rendered," Mr. Justice Brewer disposed of 
''this burden of the Government's case" in the fol- 
lo\\dng annihilating terms : 

"The Government's contention amounts only to 
this, viz., that the defendant company was not active 


but passive. If millions were to be added to its 
profit by active effort it would have been impor- 
tunate and have secured this patent long before it 
did. As millions came to it by reason of its being 
passive, it ought not to suffer for its omission to be 
importunate. It must keep coming before the Com- 
missioner, like the widow before the unjust judge in 
the parable, until it compels the declaration, though 
I fear not God nor regard man, yet, because this 
widow trouhleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her 
continual coming she weary me.* 

**But is this the rule to measure the conduct of 
those who apply for official action? What is the 
amount of the importunity which will afford protec- 
tion to the grant finally obtained? How frequent 
must the demand be? It is easy to say that the 
applications of this defendant, coming only at the 
interval of months and years, were, taken with the 
replies of the Patent Offices, mere 'perfunctory ex- 
changes of compliments,' but this docs not change 
the fact that action ivas ashed and repeatedly ashed; 
that no request was made for delay, no intimation 
that it was desired or ivould be acceptable/* 

Dealing then with the general charge of fraud 
preferred against Bell and Berliner, Mr. Justice 
Brewer's opinion was of even more destructive de- 
cisiveness. He said: 

'^The difficidty ivith this charge of tvrong is that 
it is not proved. It assumes the existence of a 
knowledge which no one had ; of an intention which 
is not shown. It treats every written communica- 
tion from the solicitor in charge of the application, 
calling for action, as a pretense, and all the oral and 
urgent appeals for promptness as in fact mere in- 
vitations to delay. It not only rejects the testimony 
which is given, both oral and written, as false, but 
asks that it be held to prove just the reverse. 


''Indeed, the case which the counsel present to 
us may be summed up in these words: 'The applica- 
tion for this patent was duly filed. The Patent Office 
after the filing had full jurisdiction over the pro- 
cedure ; the applicant had no control over its action. 
We have been unable to offer a syllable of testimony 
tending to show that the applicant ever in any way 
corrupted or attempted to corrupt any of the officials 
of the department. We have been unable to show 
that any delay or postponement w^as made at the 
instance or on the suggestion of the applicant. 
Every communication that it made during those 
years carried with it a request for action; yet be- 
cause the delay has resulted in enlarged profits to 
the applicant, and the fact that it would so result 
ought to have been known to it, it must be assumed 
that in some way it did cause the delay, and having 
so caused the delay ought to suffer therefor. ' 

*' There is seldom presented a case in which there 
is such an absolute and total failure of proof of 
wrong J' 

In his ' ' syllabus ' ' of the proceedings Mr. Justice 
Brewer added: 

"The evidence in this case does not in the least 
degree tend to show any corruption by the applicant 
of any of the officials of the department, or any un- 
due or improper influence exerted or attempted to 
be exerted by it upon them, and on the other hand 
does affirmatively show that it urged promptness on 
the part of the officials of the department, and that 
the delay was the result of the action of those 
officials. ' ' 

The Supreme Court's opinion finally set forth 
that the Government's "question, as stated, is not 
open for consideration in this case. We see no error 


in the decision of the Court of Appeals, and its de- 
cree, dismissing the [Government's] bill is af- 
firmed." The decision was all but unanimous. Of 
the members of the Supreme Court who took part in 
it, only one (Mr. Justice Harlan) dissented. It was 
by a vote of six to one that Emile Berliner 's rights 
were vindicated in the tribunal of last resort. 

Thus came to a triumi)hant end the most impor- 
tant and most protracted litigation which has arisen 
under the patent system in this country. For years 
it was pending in the trial courts and subsequently 
was brought to the United States Supreme Court. 
So vast was this litigation, so immense the volume 
of testimony, and so far-reaching the rights in- 
volved, that it is the only case in the history of the 
Supreme Court to which an entire volume of its re- 
ports is devoted. The culminating decision fixed for 
all time the meritorious place of Emile Berliner as 
a master-builder in the realm of telephony.* 

*A great deal of feeling was created against the Bell Telephone 
Company by the issue of the Berliner microphone patent. The delay 
of fourteen years in the issue of the patent was attributed to some 
"adroit handling" of the Berliner application by the Bell Tele- 
phone lawyers. True, the Supreme Court in 1896 absolved the Bell 
Company of any intentional delaying of the issue of the patent. 
Yet public opinion was so aroused that in 1903 a Court of Appeals 
narrowed the Berliner patent to the use of metallic contacts, but 
otherwise sustained the patent. In the face of that restriction, two 
presidents of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, 
Theodore N. Vail, in 1918, and H. B. Thayer, in 1924, emphatic;illy 
upheld Berliner as the inventor of the microphone. A metal micro- 
phone transmits talk perfectly; its range of adjustment alone is 



CHRONOLOGICALLY this narrative of the 
Hanover emigrant boy who, scientifically un- 
tutored, became the inventor of the microphone, was 
interrupted to make place for the drama of the tele- 
phone litigation. The story of Emile Berliner is 
now taken up where it was left off — at the beginning 
of his employment with the Bell Telephone Com- 
pany as perfecter of the Blake transmitter. 

A humble, unrecognized and merely hopeful dry- 
goods store clerk in Washington only a year before, 
Berliner now, in the middle of 1879, was an impor- 
tant factor in the neAV industry of telephony, just 
staggering into its illimitable own. The first twenty 
thousand transmitters turned out by the Williams 
factory in Boston were in use in various parts of the 
country after passing muster at Berliner's own 
hands. They were known as ''Blake-Berliner Trans- 
mitters." In a veiy literal sense, it was Berliner 
under whose auspices the telephone business STvning 
into its practical stride. 

Only once thereafter did it ever become neces- 
sary for Berliner again to apply himself to the 



Blake transmitter, which he had successfully 
launched. During Berliner's absence on protracted 
leave, the instrument department was placed under 
the supervision of another man who was considered 
an able mechanician. But Berliner had no sooner 
returned to Boston than he was told that serious 
complaints were coming in from the Telephone 
Company's agents regarding the quality of the 
Blake transmitters. Theodore N. Vail, General 
Manager of the Company, directed Berliner to de- 
vote himself without delay to ascertaining where the 
difficulty lay and removing it. 

After several weeks of plodding, Berliner, with 
intuitive grasp, put his finger on the trouble. He 
found that the substitute man who had functioned 
in the instrument department during his absence 
had introduced a new lock for the transmitter. In 
order to attach the lock, it was necessary to bore a 
good-sized hole under the casting which held the 
diaphragm. This hole formed an ''escape" for the 
voice vibrations that went into the mouthpiece, cor- 
respondingly weakening their effect on the dia- 
phragm. Only a trained and intensive experimenter 
like Berliner could have located the cause of this 
serious defect so unerringly. Once determined, it 
was speedily remedied. The Bell Company realized 
that once again, and at another critical moment, the 
transmitter had been saved by Berliner's skill. 

The Boston of the early 'eighties offered many 
attractions for a young man of Emile Berliner's in- 


James J. Storrow 
GuGLiELMO Marconi 

Alexander Graham Bell 
Maj. Gex. Geo. O. Squier 


tellectual bent. Though he lived in a typical New 
England city boarding-house of the era, Berliner 
studiously warded off the dulling influence of such 
an environment and availed himself of the numerous 
educational opportunities of "The Hub." The 
Boston public library, art institute and symphony 
orchestra already were institutions of national re- 
pute, and at those fountains of inspiration the young 
inventor drank freely in his spare hours. 

Work, under great pressure, in connection vdth. 
the perfection of the Blake transmitter, brought on 
a recurrence of Berliner's nervous troubles, which 
only a year previous had threatened so serious con- 
sequences. In the midst of his labors at the Bell 
laboratory one day, he suffered an attack which re- 
quired his instant removal to the Massachusetts 
General Hospital. The Bell Company was deeply 
concerned over the health of its young scientific lieu- 
tenant. General Manager Vail gave instructions 
that every conceivable care and attention should be 
given Berliner. As soon as Alexander Graham Bell 
learned of the inventor's breakdown, he ^dsited him 
in the hospital. The consideration and courtesy re- 
ceived at Bell's hands did much to give Berliner 
courage and strength to rally from his sickbed. 
Within ten days he was able to leave the hospital, 
though not strong enough to resume work. Instead, 
Berliner yielded to the suggestion of Mr. Williams, 
the head of the telephone factory, that a period of 
recuperation in the New Hampshire hills would 


work wonders. So Berliner arranged to make his 
home for three weeks in a fisherman's cottage in the 
"White Momitains. There, complete rest, sleep and 
life in the open accomplished their unfailing cure, 
and it was not long before the inventor found 
his old-time strength returning. It was during that 
beautiful New England spring of 1879 that Berliner 
experienced the magic of Nature as a healing agent. 
He remembers to this day the buoyancy of his steps 
as he again walked the streets of Boston. 

Berliner's social contacts in Boston were limited, 
but notable and delightful. Alexander Graham 
Bell and his family invited him to their home, 
a beautiful house in Cambridge which the Bell and 
Hubbard families occupied together. There Ber- 
liner now and then had opportunity to meet the class 
of people who give the Back Bay cultural distinc- 
tion. Under the Bell roof, too, Berliner naturally 
found agreeable companionship with the field mar- 
shals of telephone science, of whom Bell was, of 
course, the acknowledged generalissimo. 

Maturity had come with his arrival in the throb- 
bing thirties, and Berliner now felt himself definitely 
launched upon the coveted career of a scientist. To 
him it was an ever amazing transition as he looked 
back upon his non-technical background and recalled 
his humdrum life as a dry-goods clerk. 

Berliner could not always hold his o^^^l with 
some of the trained scientists who frequented the 
Bell-Hubbard home. He was often embarrassed by 


finding himself entangled in intricate mathematical 
discussions a little beyond one who had left school in 
Germany at the age of fourteen, had never had a 
single day's schooling in America, and was entirely 
self-taught as far as the science of telephony was 
concerned. Berliner's embarrassment on this ac- 
count was unfailingly removed by the frank pleasure 
of new acquaintances in finding themselves in the 
presence of an unaffected personality. 

Berliner's perfection of the Blake transmitter 
had been of so paramount importance that he was 
eventually appointed chief instrument inspector of 
the Bell Telephone Company. In that capacity it 
was his duty to tour the instrument department of 
the factory twice a day. On those occasions it was 
his habit to question closely his assistant, W. L. 
Richards, whom Berliner had placed in charge of 
testing work, on all and sundry that was transpir- 
ing in connection with the manufacture of instru- 
ments. It was, of course, of the most direct and 
vital interest to the Bell Company that its appara- 
tus should function with faultless precision. The 
art, in a commercial sense, was still too young and 
the public far too insufficiently acquainted mth the 
telephone 's practicability to permit the Bells to run 
the risk of catering for patronage with faulty 

One episode, destined to be of immense impor- 
tance to the talking-machine industry in later years, 
came under Berliner 's observation during his scout- 


ing trips through the telephone factory. A manu- 
facturer of imitation hard rubber offered to produce 
hand receivers for the Bell Telephone Company at 
less than half the price of instruments composed of 
real hard rubber. Vail, the general manager, 
turned the proposition over to Berliner, who visited 
at Albany the works where the imitation rubber 
articles were being made. Berliner was so much 
impressed with their beauty and the skill with which 
a composition was used for turning them out that 
he advised Vail to give the manufacturer a sample 
order for equipment of a thousand telephones. They 
were handsomer than real rubber, and, after under- 
going completion in the AVilliams factory under 
Berliner's supervision, telephones fitted with the 
imitation rubber material were shipped to a few 
selected Bell agents in charge of local exchanges 
with instructions to keep them under close observa- 

But reports soon came in that the composition 
equipment could not withstand rough treatment and 
easily cracked and broke. Its use was forthwith 
abandoned. But the experiment, which had proved 
rather an expensive failure for the Telephone Com- 
pany, served Berliner years afterward, when he 
successfully utilized the same imitation rubber com- 
position for the pressing of millions of disk sound 
records for the gramophone. Other talking ma- 
chines copied this process. The identical material, 
with slight variations, is used to this day for disk 


records, showing that even an abandoned scientific 
experiment may contain the seed from which a great 
new industry is destined to arise. 

Apart from occasional special experiments with 
new kinks in telephony, which bobbed np incessantly 
from nondescript quarters, Berliner's activities in 
the instrument department of the Bell Company be- 
came more or less routine. He had worked out the 
Blake transmitter so thoroughly that thousands of 
those instruments could be produced without diffi- 
culty and so perfectly that they kept their adjust- 
ment indefinitely. This was the more remarkable 
because the transmitter required to be constructed 
with the most minute care, whereas the Bell magneto 
receiver had no movable parts to get out of adjust- 

It was at this stage of Berliner's career that he 
conceived a desire to visit the land of his birth. A 
member of his own family, Emile's youngest 
brother, Joseph, was now in America, and, being 
of a mechanical turn of mind, Berliner secured for 
him a position in the Williams telephone factory. 
Joseph proved to be an able apprentice. One of 
Berliner's personal assistants, a trained English 
mechanic, gave Joseph daily instruction after the 
plant had closed down for the d'ay. The education 
of his brother Joseph was part of a plan upon which 
Emile Berliner had been quietly working, namely, 
the introduction of telephone transmitters into Eu- 
rope. Incidentally, he desired to give two of his 


brothers a chance to ''get in on the ground floor" of 
the telephone industry in Germany. 

Vail readily consented when Emile Berliner 
asked the general manager of the Bell Telephone 
Company for a leave of absence to visit Europe. 
The young inventor had not seen his mother and 
brothers and sisters for eleven years. Berliner's 
father had meanwhile passed away. Even in the 
days of his slender income as a store clerk in Wash- 
ington, Berliner had regularly sent money to his 
mother, in accordance with the time-honored prac- 
tise of the millions of young Europeans who emi- 
grated to these treasure shores. 

Early in the summer of 1881 Berliner went back 
to Germany, under vastly different circumstances 
than those which marked his departure from Han- 
over in 1870, an emigrant youth possessing little but 
dormant talent with which to start life in a new 
and strange land. Berliner had by now profited 
handsomely from his telephone inventions, though 
his rewards were wholly incommensurate with the 
returns which inventive achievements like the trans- 
mitter would bring to-day. Yet the Bells had given 
him what was a fortune for those times — nearly fifty 
years ago. His financial prosperity was, of course, 
a gratifying testimonial to his merit, but he derived 
immensely greater satisfaction from the scientific 
recognition his struggles had brought him. 

Berliner's widowed mother no longer occupied 
the house in Hanover which had sheltered him and 


his brothers and sisters in their youth. Four 
brothers and two sisters were still alive, some mar- 
ried, others making their home with their mother. 
Hanover otherwise was much the same. The city 
was throbbing with the new industrial energy which 
came to Germany after the victorious war with 
France and was the seat of prosperous factories of 
various sorts. One of its budding new industries 
was a rubber works in which a comrade of Ber- 
liner's school days, Herman Hecht, was prominent. 
The inventor's mother rejoiced in the reunion with 
her son after the lapse of ten years, and in his tri- 
umphant entry into the newly world-famed science 
of telephony. Day after day, for the edification of 
his mother, brothers, sisters and old friends, Ber- 
liner had to hold forth in minute description of his 
life and work in ''free America." In the eyes of 
them all he assumed the dimensions of a hero. What 
most astonished them, steeped as they were in Ger- 
man tradition, was that success in life was possible 
mthout influence, and, in a scientific profession, 
without university training. Berliner's achieve- 
ment, accomplished wholly because of natural abil- 
ity and the will to do, struck his Hanoverian kin 
and former associates as little short of miraculous. 
The Bell magneto telephone was already known 
in Germany. To a limited extent it was in use in 
various government departments, principally by 
the post-office. The largest electric concern of the 
time, the firm of Siemens and Halske, of Berlin, was 


manufacturing an enlarged Bell magneto telephone. 
This was used both as a receiver and a transmitter, 
but no battery transmitter was employed. 

The young American saw at once the opportun- 
ity for introduction in Germany of the telephone 
transmitter, or microphone, and the establishment 
of a factory for the production of apparatus on the 
lines pursued by the Bell- Williams factory in Bos- 
ton. In Hanover itself there were as yet no tele- 
phones at all, and that situation was characteristic 
of practically all Germany. 

Berliner proposed that his older brother, Jacob, 
who was conducting a small tannery, should form 
a partnership with the younger brother, Joseph, 
who was still serving his telephone apprenticeship 
in America. Emile's idea was that Jacob should be 
the financier and business manager of the enter- 
prise, while Joseph should attend to its technical 
development. It was decided, upon the strength of 
Emile's persuasive confidence in the assured and 
limitless future of the telephone, to cable Joseph to 
return to Germany. 

At the same time it was arranged to import a 
number of transmitters from the Williams factory. 
Thereupon there was launched the "Telephon-Fab- 
rik J. Berliner." It soon developed into a very 
large producer of telephone apparatus which be- 
came famous all over Europe. Eventually it made 
rich men of the two brothers whom Emile induced 
to enter the virgin field. One of those whom Ber- 


liner had tried and failed to interest financially in 
the elec]trical business was his schoolmate of Wolf- 
enbiittel, Herman Hecht. Hecht conferred with a 
number of brother capitalists, but they came to the 
conclusion that electrical engineering was still too 
visionary a thing to merit the consideration of prac- 
tical German business men. The Berliner factory 
at Hanover was the first serious step toward the 
introduction of modern telephone service into both 
Germany and France. In Paris and other French 
cities the '^Transmetteur Berliner" was for years 
afterward the standard instrument. So the Han- 
over lad paved the way for the telephone transmit- 
ter or microphone in the Old World, as he had done 
in the New. 

Having accomplished liis ambition to start his 
brothers in the telephone business, Emile devoted 
the rest of his sojourn in Germany to recreation and 
visits among the cronies and scenes of his early life. 
He went to Wolfenbiittel to see the old school and 
his headmaster, who exhibited him with beaming 
satisfaction as a sample of what the educational 
system of that modest, though model, institution 
could produce. Emile invited his mother to visit 
with him in the Harz Mountains, whence America 
imports canary birds, and amid their picturesque 
and invigorating hills, Sarah Berliner and her son 
lived over again those times, fifteen and twenty 
years previous when he was dreaming the ''long, 
long thoughts" of youth, though not faintly envis- 


ioning what the future held in store for him in 
''free America." 

In the autumn of 1881, Emile Berliner returned 
to the United States to claim in marriage Miss Cora 
Adler, to whom he had become engaged just before 
leaving for Europe. It was the Adler home on 
Sixth Street, "Washington, to which Berliner once 
strung "telephone" wires from his lodgings across 
the way, and some of his early successes were 
achieved while thus combining experiment mtli 
courtship. A simple wedding was solemnized in 
October and the young couple at once set up house- 
keeping in Cambridge, Massachusetts, ^\itliin walk- 
ing distance of Harvard Square, while Berliner re- 
sumed his duties at the Bell telephone factory in 

Soon afterward, ^v'ith his assistant Richards in 
charge of the instrument department, Berliner was 
called upon by the Bell lawyers to assist Professor 
Cross, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 
in the important experiments required for the con- 
duct of the great lawsuits in defense of the Bell- 
Berliner patents. On one occasion during the litiga- 
tion, when the United States Government's experts 
attacked Berliner's microphone caveat (of April 14, 
1877) as a mere description of an unfinished inven- 
tion, Berliner resorted to an unique demonstration 
in rebuttal. He rigged up and adjusted a common 
telegraph key such as was mentioned in the caveat 
of April 14, 1877, but instead of using the contact 


for sending a telegraph message Berliner made of it 
a microphone loose contact, leaving everything else 
intact. Then, in the presence of lawyers and 
experts, he caused the Government's counsel to 
carry on a perfect conversation over a line simply 
by talking to the telegraph ''microphone." The 
Federal attorney took this conclusive test ^\'ith good 
grace. Turning to the telephone company's law- 
yers, he exclaimed: ''It does seem incredible!" 

The impromptu aural proof thus supplied estab- 
lished the completeness and entire sufficiency of the 
early Berliner caveat, describing the microphone — 
a patent paper later eulogized by James J. Storrow 
as "a classical document." 



WHEN the Sesquicentennial throngs in the 
summer of 1926 crossed the great steel 
bridge that now spans the Delaware from Phila- 
delphia to Camden, they found the Jersey sky-line 
dominated by a factory of magnificent dimensions. 
It has been called the house that Emile Berliner 
built — the home of the *' talking machine." 

Many men and many minds participated in its 
erection. But Berliner's part — the invention of the 
lateral cut disk record — was the corner-stone. 
Upon it there was reared and now firmly rests the 
w^hole '' talking machine" industry throughout the 
world. As the telephone was impracticable until 
Emile Berliner completed it, so the art of reproduc- 
ing and perpetuating sound remained imperfect 
until the inventor of the microphone turned his 
attention to the "talking machine." 

The result was the invention of the gramophone. 

The gramophone — gramma, a letter, and phone, 
a sound — according to Noah Webster [Imperial 
Dictionary, page 798) is "a device invented by E. 
Berliner to record, retain and reproduce sounds. It 



differs from a phonograph in ha\dng a circular disk 
upon which tracings are made by a recording style, 
and from which sounds are reproduced by another 
kind of style attached to the diaphragm of any one 
of various types of reproducers." Berliner not only 
invented the gramophone, but corned its. name. 

So terse and technical a description of Emile 
Berliner's second triumph in his chosen field of 
acoustics does necessarily scant justice to its real 
contribution to human happiness and to civilization 
at large. To have invented the microphone-trans- 
mitter, as one of Berliner's early eulogists observed, 
*' would be sufficient for the glory of a single life." 
But the task to which the restless scientist now dedi- 
cated his energies was to culminate in an achieve- 
ment that is likely to be ranked by posterity not 
very far behind the boon of the telephone. 

What Berliner was about to do — in his own 
graphic language — was to ''etch the human voice." 
Michael Angelo, with brush and chisel, immortalized 
the human form, but, despite God-given talent, left 
it — as all modelers in marble and oil perforce must 
do — '''mute, inglorious." Emile Berliner took hu- 
man sound, whether uttered in speech or song, and 
reproduced it, not as a parody as in the tinfoil 
phonograph or in the wax-cylinder graphophone, 
which were already in existence, but in accurate and 
fadeless form, to echo down the ages as long as time 
endures. He enabled mankind to ''hold communion 
with immortality." Masterpieces in oil have been 


copied as etchings. Many original creations have 
been made by etchers. But to etch the human voice 
constituted a superb extension of the etching art 
into the realm of physics, acoustics and of the hu- 
man, living drama. 

For the better part of the subsequent half-cen- 
tury civilization the world over has been the sweeter 
and the nobler for the entertainment and the edu- 
cation that came with the ''talking machine." 
Until its dawn, the music of the masters and its 
rendition by interpreters of distinction were the 
luxurious privilege of the cultured few ; and not even 
always of them, for to enjoy Beethoven, Liszt and 
Chopin, and hear the great orchestras, the virtuosos 
of piano, violin, cello and harp, or the song-birds of 
international repute, meant the ability to purchase 
such cultural opportunities at prices beyond the 
purse of the average person. 

The advent of the "talking machine," and quite 
particularly of Emile Berliner's contribution to it — 
the thing we know as the *' record" — brought Apollo 
into the homes of the children of men everywhere. 

It turned the humblest fireside into an opera- 
house. It taught the cowboy to whistle Wagner and 
Tosti. It made Melba and Caruso the familiar com- 
panions of music-lovers far and wide. It made 
William Jennings Bryan the speaker of the evening 
in a myriad of living-rooms. It banished loneliness 
and solitude from the life of the lowliest. On one 
of Emile Berliner's walls there hangs a picture be- 


neath which, in his o^^^l handwriting, are the words : 
''In Touch with Civilization." 

The story of that picture was once quaintly told 
by him in a paper on The Development of the Talk- 
ing Machine before the Franklin Institute; 

"It shows a giant lumberman reposing placidly 
on a rough bench in front of his crude log cabin in 
the mlds of western Canada. Nothing but forest 
and mountains surround him. His ax and shot-gun 
lean against the cabin within easy reach. He is 
smoking his pipe, and his faithful dog crouches at 
his feet. His nearest neighbors are miles away. In 
days gone by, the solitude of his existence would 
have been but rarely relieved by diversions or pleas- 
ures, and then only by occasional visits to the cen- 
ters of supplies, where barrooms, gambling dens and 
low dance-halls satisfied his yearning for a change 
from his dreary and laborious daily existence. 

*'But now there stands in front of him a rough 
dry-goods box, on it an old-time horn gramophone 
and a stack of disk records. The concert halls, the 
vaudeville and opera-houses of the world are repre- 
sented in that pile. English statesmen and Amer- 
ican presidents may talk to the lumberjack as if face 
to face, and he can entertain his occasional visitors 
■with the same choice selections that are heard in 
the drawing-rooms of mansions occupied by the 
favored few, be they in the capitals or greatest cities 
on another side of the globe." 

On May 16, 1888, Berliner gave before the Frank- 
lin Institute of Philadelphia the first exhibition of 
the gramophone, patented by him a few months 
previous. The exhibition consisted of the grinding 
out on his hand-driven machine of half a dozen 


*'phonautograms" — the name for records in those 
primitive days — which reproduced, respectively, in 
music and in spoken words, the following program: 

1. Baritone solos: Yankee Doodle; Baby Mine} 
Nancy Lee. 

2. Cornet Solo. 

3. Baritone Solo: Tar's Farewell. 

4. Soprano Solo: Home Sweet Home; Annie 

5. Tenor Solo: A Wandering Minstrel I. 

6. Recitation: The Declaration of Independence. 

Then Berliner, having electrified the members 
of the Franklin Institute with alluring evidence of 
the gramophone's present, invited them to accom- 
pany him on a prophetic tour into the field of its 
future. Here is his flight into fancy thirty-eight 
years ago, long before the needles of the talking ma- 
chine had scratched the surface of its possibilities: 

**A standard reproducing apparatus, simple in 
construction and easily manipulated, mil, at a mod- 
erate selling price, be placed on the market. 

*' Those having one may then buy an assortment 
of Phonautograms, to be increased occasipnally, 
comprising recitations, songs, chorus and instru- 
mental solos or orchestral pieces of every variety. 

*'In each city there will be at least one office hav- 
ing a gramophone recorder with all the necessary- 
outfits. There will be an acoustic cabinet, or acousti- 
con, containing a very large funnel or other sound 
concentrator, the narrow end of which ends in a tube 
leading to the recording diaphragm. At the wide 


opening of the funnel will be placed a piano, and 
back of it a semicircular wall for reflecting the sound 
into the funnel. Persons desirous of ha\ their 
voice taken mil step before the funnel and, upon a 
giten signal, sing or speak, or they may perform 
upon an instrument. While they are waiting the 
plate will be developed, and when it is satisfactory, 
it is turned over to the electrotyper or to the molder 
in charge, who will make as many copies as desired. 

''Prominent singers, speakers or performers 
may derive an income from royalties on the sale 
of their phonautograms, and valuable plates may be 
printed and registered to protect against unauthor- 
ized publication. 

*' Collections of phonautograms may become 
very valuable, and whole evenings ^\^11 be spent at 
home going through a long list of interesting per- 
formances. Who will deny the beneficial influence 
which civilization wdll experience when the voices of 
dear relatives and friends long departed, the utter- 
ances of the great men and women who lived cen- 
turies before, the radiant songs of Patti, Campanini, 
and others, the dramatic voices of Booth, Irving and 
Bernhardt, and the humor of Nye and Riley can be 
heard and reheard in every Avell-furnished parlor. 

''Last wills can be registered with the testators' 
own voices, and important testimony can be sent 
from afar and read in court, and the voice so pro- 
duced can be testified to by friends present. 

"Languages can be taught by having a good 
elocutionist speak classical recitations, and sell 
copies of his voice to students. In this department 
alone, and that of teaching elocution generally, an 
immense field is to be filled by the gramophone. 

"Addresses — congratulatory, political or other- 
wise — can be delivered by proxy so loudl}^ that the 
audience will be almost as if conscious of the speak- 
er's presence. 

"A singer unable to appear at a concert may 


send lier voice and be represented as per program, 
and conventions will listen to distant sympathizers, 
be they thousands of miles away. 

"Future generations mil be able to condense 
within the space of twenty minutes a tone picture of 
a single lifetime. Five minutes of a child's prattle, 
five of the boy's exultations, five of the man's re- 
flections, and five from the feeble utterances from 
the death-bed. Will it not be like holding communion 
even with immortality?" 



IT IS a curious coincidence that although it was in 
America that both the telephone and the talking 
machine were actually invented and perfected, it 
was from France that the fundamental ideas under- 
lying each of them sprang. 

Charles Bourseuil, a Frenchman, first evolved the 
theory of sending speech by telegraph in 1854. An- 
other Frenchman, Leon Scott, invented in 1857 the 
first instrument for recording, though not reproduc- 
ing, the vibrations of the human voice and of musi- 
cal instruments. Scott's device was the **phonauto- 
graph." This is usually regarded as a precursor of 
the ** talking machine," even though it had little in 
common with the instrument we know to-day by that 
name. Scott's phonautograph could only register 
sound, which was projected against a diaphragm 
and recorded on a moving cylinder around which 
paper covered with lampblack was wrapped. A 
lever or stylus was attached to the diaphragm, and 
this stylus traced the record on the smoked paper. 

What makes a talldng machine talk? Emile Ber- 



liner answers the question tersely and clearly. 
''Fundamentally it is this," he saj^s. "^ound 
throT\ai against a diaphragm makes it vibrate. If a 
needle is attached to the center and made to touch a 
moving surface, for instance, semi-hard wax, the 
point of the needle will trace or cut sound vibrations 
into the wax. This is called a sound record. If now 
the diaphragm and needle are made to retrace the 
record, the vibratory tracings previously made will 
cause the diaphragm to re-vibrate and thereby re- 
produce the original sound." 

The development and history of the talking ma- 
chine began with Scott's phonautograph. It con- 
sisted of a good-sized horizontal cylinder mounted 
on a screw and turned by hand, which gave the cylin- 
der a slowly progressive motion. The cylinder was 
covered with paper; this was smoked over a sooty 
flame to an even film of black. At right angles to the 
cylinder was a large-sized barrel-shaped horn which 
was closed by a diaphragm and to the center of the 
diaphragm was fixed a flexible bristle, so adjusted 
that the point of the bristle just touched the smoked 
surface. When the cylinder was turned any sound 
uttered into the barrel traced sound waves into the 
sooty surface. The phonautograph was one of the 
first machines utilizing a diaphragm for visual 
studies of a voice record. In the National Museum 
at Washing-ton there is an old original Scott Phon- 
autograph which Professor Joseph Henry used in 
his studies of sound vibrations. 


During the summer of 1877, when America's at- 
tention was still riveted on the speaking telephone, 
and on all and sundry connected with that miracle, 
Edward H. Johnson, who was associated with 
Thomas A. Edison, embarked upon a lecture tour 
devoted to the public presentation of past and pros- 
pective achievements in technical science, especially 
electro-magnetics. A considerable portion of Mr. 
Johnson's lecture consisted of a description of a 
device which Edison had worked out. By means of 
it the inventor thought it would be possible to send 
a mechanically registered voice message to any of 
the few Bell telephone stations then in operation, 
and thence have it transmitted automatically over 
wires. This process would have been the equivalent 
of sending the usual written message by telegraph. 

Edison's idea was to mount a diaphragm and a 
stylus, or needle, against a moving strip of paper, 
talk the message to the diaphragm, and let the stylus 
indent the mo\^ng strip, with the characters of 
speech appearing as a continuous groove containing 
these up-and-down indentations. The strip was to 
be sent to the telephone station and passed over a 
transmitter on the diaphragm of which was another 
stylus. This stylus followed the voice indentations 
and thereby caused voice undulations in the current, 
as if some one had spoken to the transmitter di- 
rectly. Thus the message could be sent by a sort of 
automatic telephone repeater. 

According to the testimony of Edward H. John- 


son, contained in an address published in the Elec- 
trical World, New York, on February 22, 1890, the 
graphic term "talking machine" was not the inven- 
tion of Mr. Edison, but of a clever head-line writer 
on a Buffalo newspaper. 

'*In the course of one of my lectures, or impro- 
vised talks," Mr. Johnson narrated, "it occurred to 
me that it would be a good idea to tell my audience 
about Edison's telephone repeater, at Buffalo, 
which I did. My audience seemed to have a much 
clearer appreciation of the value of the invention 
than we had ourselves. They gave me such a cheer 
as I have seldom heard. I did not comprehend the 
impoi^tance of the device at the time; but the next 
morning the Buffalo papers announced in glaring 
head-lines : 

*A Great Discovery: A Talking Machine by Pro- 
fessor Edison. Mr. Edison's Wonderful Instrument 
Will Produce Articulate Speech With All the Per- 
fections of the Human Voice. ' 

"I realized for the first time that Edison had, as 
a matter of fact, invented a talking machine. The 
immediate importance of it to me was that this cre- 
ated a sensation, and I had very large audiences in 
all my entertainments thereafter. Realizing that 
and having had sufficient experience by this time to 
profit by such things, I made a special point of this 
feature in m}^ next entertainment, which was at 
Rochester, and I had a crowded house — one that did 
my heart good — and my pocket, too. That satisfied 
me that I had better go home and assist in perfect- 
ing this instrument. 

"I knew, from my own experience in the matter, 
that it was a comparatively simple thing to do, so I 
canceled thirteen engagements and went back home 


with those newspaper clippings. I went straight 
down to the laboratory, which was then at Newark, 
and I said: *Mr. Edison, look here. See the trouble 
you have got me into.' He read these things over 
and said : ' That is so ; they are right. This is w^hat 
it is — a talking machine. ' I said : ' Can you make it ? ' 
He said, *0f course. Have you got any money T I 
said, 'Yes, I have a little,' and I had a little. He 
said: 'Go to New York and get me three feet of stub 
steel an inch and a half in diameter, and a piece of 
brass pipe four inches in diameter and six or eight 
inches long, and we will make it. ' 

*'I took the next train to New York and got the 
material and took it back and went to work. Within 
twenty-four hours we had a little revolving cylinder 
turned with a crank and a simple diaphragm needle, 
wrapped a sheet of tinfoil around the cylinder, and 
gave it the original phonographic sentence, 'Mary 
Had a Little Lamb.' Then we sat back, to see what 
the instrument was going to do about it. It came 
out to our entire satisfaction. Not as clear as it 
does to-day, but it was 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' 
sure enough. That was. the original phonograph.^ ' 

This happened in the fall of 1877. It is, however, 
a matter of record that Charles Cros, a Frenchman, 
as early as April thirtieth of that year, actually de- 
posited mth the Academy of Sciences in Paris a 
sealed envelope containing a document in which 
Cros described a fundamental idea for reproducing 
speech from a record of the voice previously made 
on a moving surface. The contents were described 
as "A Process of Recording and Reproducing 
Audible Phenomena." It was not until December 3, 
1877, that the Cros paper was divulged in an open 


discussion of the Academy of Sciences. Meantime 
Edison appeared with the phonograph. 

The Edison tinfoil cylinder phonograph was 
presently exhibited all over the world. To be sure, 
the reproduction it made was little better than a 
parody of the voice. Every indentation made by the 
voice was changed by the wave and the indentation 
follomng it, because the tinfoil readily yielded to 
direct or adjoining pressure. The inevitable result 
was a general distortion of the record. But as a 
scientific and ingenious curiosity the original tinfoil 
phonograph ranked high, even though after a few 
years it was forgotten by the public at large. 

A year or two after the invention of the tele- 
phone Alexander Graham Bell received from the 
French Government a gift of money, known as the 
Volta Prize, for the invention of the telephone.* 
With the money Bell built and equipped the Volta 
Laboratory' in Washington for the purpose of carry- 
ing on scientific research, in particular in matters 
relating to sound and acoustics. 

Among the men engaged to conduct the Volta 
Laboratory were Alexander Graham Bell's cousin, 
Chichester A. Bell, and Charles Sumner Tainter. 

Bell and Tainter agreed that it might be pos- 

*Ale3sandro Volta in 1800 made the first electric cell. His bat- 
tery, OP "voltaic pile," consisted of a number of silver coins and an 
equal number of zinc disks of the same size. The silver and zinc 
disks were piled alternately on top of one another, with pieces of 
moist cloth between the disks. Wires were fastened to the top and 
bottom of the pile, and, when they were joined, Volta obtained a 
steadily flowing current of electricity. Thus did electrical engineer- 
ing begin. [A Popular History of American Invention.] 


Gramophoxe SotixD Tracings 

Gramophone Eeproducer, 1889 

Gramophone Eecorder, 1888 


Bible to improve the Edison tinfoil phonograph 
so as to make it a serviceable "talking ma- 
chine." After endless experimental work, they 
finally decided that distortion of the voice recorded 
by indenting the vibration into tinfoil might be 
avoided if, instead, the voice vibrations were cut into 
wax or a wax-like substance by a very small, sharp 
chisel attached to the center of a diaphragm. Their 
reasoning was thoroughly logical and scientific. 
FortlR\'ith the process that was evolved from it, viz., 
a wax record cut with a chisel, produced a vast im- 
provement over the Edison record indented into tin- 
foil. Bell and Tainter received a patent for it on 
May 4, 1886. 

In the spring of 1887 the Bell-Tainter instru- 
ment, which they had christened "graphophone," 
was first exhibited. It was the first really practical 
apparatus of the phonograph type and excited the 
animated admiration of crowds in Washington and 
other places where it was displayed. The American 
Graphophone Company was organized by Philadel- 
phia capitalists to exploit the machine. The com- 
pany established a factory and embarked commer- 
cially upon the production of talking machines and 
of wax-covered paper-cylinder records. 

Berliner's Franklin Institute address on the 
gramophone, in June, 1888, contained the following 
paragraph : 

''Soon after the graphophone became generally 
known, Mr. Edison took again to experimenting with 


the phonograph, and also settled upon a cylinder of 
wax and the graving-out process, thus confirming 
the correctness of the Bell-Tainter conclusions. The 
new Edison phonograph and the graphophone ap- 
pear to he practically the same apparatus, differing 
only in form and motive power." 

It was the cylinder type of talking machine that 
finally developed into the dictaphone, a form of wax- 
cylinder graphophone now in so common use in 
offices for stenographic and typing purposes, and 
frequently impressed into the service of the detec- 
tive's mysterious art. 



IN 1883 Emile Berliner and his bride, after two 
years of honeymoon existence within the cul- 
tured shadow of ''fair Harvard" at Cambridge, re- 
sumed their residence in Washington. Berliner had 
come to the conclusion that the National Capital, 
besides being the country's political metropolis, was 
also its scientific hub. The Smithsonian Institution 
and the United States Patent Office were there. In- 
tellectual achievement in America, in countless di- 
rections, has had its origin and inspiration on the 
Potomac, the atmosphere of which, of course, had 
for Berliner in addition the sentimental charm of 
the environment in which success in his chosen pro- 
fession came to the inventor of the microphone. 
Washington, in the days of the Arthur administra- 
tion, was still a horse-car town, with few indications 
of its impending twentieth-century importance and 
grandeur. But Berliner decided, all things consid- 
ered, that it was the natural place in which to pitch 
his tent. 

One of the recognized captains of the new tele- 
phone industry at thirty-two years of age, and with 
a competence that was more than comfortable for 



conditions of the time, Berliner might easily have 
quit the anxious and arduous field of inventive en- 
deavor, and rested leisurely upon his telephone 
laurels. No thought was remoter from his desires 
or intentions. His telephonic studies had familiar- 
ized him wdth all the causes influencing the trans- 
mission and reproduction of the voice. The idea of 
devising something that would perfectly record 
human sound seemed to him like a natural sequel to 
the art of telephony, to the success of which Ber- 
liner had contributed so substantially. He deter- 
mined forthwith to devote himself to the invention 
of a talking machine on original lines. 

Now a full-fledged citizen of the United States 
and the head of a family, Berliner's first objective 
in Washington was the establishment of a home. 
Forty-three years ago the Columbia Heights section 
of the capital was a suburban region that suggested 
a passion for solitude on the part of any one who 
built there. But Berliner was not dissuaded from 
his purpose by friends who advised against "going 
out into the country to live." So he reared him- 
self a spacious and substantial dwelling of brick 
and stone on Columbia Road, only a couple of 
miles north of the White House, yet, in those days, 
a remote district of Washington. To-day, atop **the 
Hill," as the neighborhood is called, Columbia Road 
is the center of a throbbing business and residential 
quarter. Ultra-fashionable Sixteenth Street — ''Ave- 
nue of the Presidents" — is just around the corner, 


with its noble row of foreign embassies and stately 
church edifices, and stretching in a bee-line for half 
a dozen picturesque miles straightaway from the 
White House to the Maryland line. Berliner was a 
pioneer believer in the metropolitan destinies of 
"Washington and to-day has extensive land holdings 
acquired in times when the possibilities of the City 
of Magnificent Distances were not realized by many 
of its citizens. 

In a front up-stairs room of his beautiful home 
on Columbia Eoad, which became a local landmark 
and was owned by him until 1925, Emile Ber- 
liner installed a small laboratory. It was destined 
to be the cradle of the gramophone — the term which 
he himself coined and which was the description 
applied to his machine in the application for a 
patent issued November 12, 1887. As in the case of 
his telephone inventions, Berliner evolved the 
gramophone only after long and persistent experi- 
ment. His family saw little of him in those plodding 
days and for the most part was kept in ignorance of 
exactly what it was that the restless young inventor 
was now tinkering with in his home workshop. 

The old Leon Scott phonautograph, on exhibition 
in the National Museum, fascinated Berliner, and he 
had been giving it incessant and analytical study. 
Its soundness of theory was no less apparent than 
its obvious crudities. The status of talking machines 
in 1887-1888, when Berliner 's experiments were ripe 
for practical results, he himself set forth as follows : 


* * The tinfoil phonograph of Edison had been known 
for ten years and was a scientific curiosity only, 
though of historic value. The wax cylinder phono- 
graph or graphophone of Chichester Bell and 
Sumner Tainter had been invented, and its aim, as 
pronounced by its promoters, was to become a dicta- 
graph for private and business correspondence. 
Both machines represented a system of sound 
recording in which sound waves were either ver- 
tically indented, as in the Edison phonograph, or 
vertically engraved into a wax cylinder, as in the 
Bell-Tainter graphophone. In reproducing these 
records a feed screw was provided which turned 
either the cylinder past the needle or the reproduc- 
ing sound-box past the cylinder." 

Berliner's gramophone changed all this. Its 
record was made horizontally and parallel with the 
record surface. By itself it formed the screw or 
spiral which propelled the reproducing sound-box, 
so that while the needle was vibrated it was at the 
same time pushed forward by the record groove. As 
the sound-box was mounted in such a manner that it 
was free to follow this propelling movement, it made 
the reproducer adjust itself automatically to the 
record. The horizontal record of the gramophone 
was more capable of recording somid in its entirety. 
In the vertical record of the phonograph-grapho- 
phone there was a certain distortion which became 
more pronounced the deeper the sound waves in- 
dented or engraved the record substance. 


Berliner's attention was riveted upon three dis- 
tinct phases of the talking-macliine art, and upon 
them he proceeded to concentrate. He set out to 
perfect (1) a photo-engraving process ; (2) a scheme 
for ''etching the human voice" — another of the in- 
genious idioms which he minted; and (3) a duplicat- 
ing method whereby it would be possible to make an 
Unlimited number of records of the same voice- 
registration out of some tough, wear-resisting mate- 
rial like celluloid or hard rubber. 

"Berliner's idea of constructing a matrix, en- 
abling records to be pressed in large quantities for 
sale, was entirely novel," says Alfred Clark, the 
American Managing Director of the Gramophone 
Company, Ltd., of Middlesex, England. "It is the 
basis of the great gramophone industry throughout 
the world to-day. Without it, the talking-machine 
business would have remained in a dwarf state. To 
Emile Berliner's conception is wholly due the fact 
that literally millions of records of a dance number 
or a great instrumental or vocal masterpiece, by 
orchestra, band or soloist, are now struck of£ from 
the one original." 

When the graphophone came out in 1887, Ber- 
liner's sharply trained ear at once discerned that, 
while the process of cutting the record was better 
than indenting it, distortion of the voice had yet to 
be overcome. He finally concluded that the cause of 
distortion could never be removed by the method of 
recording up and down into the wax, no matter how 

18S lOMIlJO Kl'^K'LlNMR 

(Iclic/iloly the iiiecliaiiical parts oi" llio macliiuo might 
be consirnciod. 

For oxani|)!(\ if oiio wore to ])iisli a load ])oiu'il 
throng:h and along the surface of a cake of soap, it 
-v^oiild roquiro a oortaiii amount of foi'oo to do it. It 
is jiossible in a laboratory to measure this foree. If 
the pencil wore pushed Across the soap at a depth of, 
snjs one-sixteenth of an inch and at a speed of ono 
inch |)er second, it would recpiire, say, five ounces of 
])rossuro by the hand to do it. But if the t)oncil were 
ptlshod across at a depth of ()ne-cii>hth of aii inch 
(twice the depth), it would not take simply twice the 
flmoutit of pressure (/'. c, ten ounces), but three or 
fouf times the amount. 

So Berliner saw that to make a Ivai record l\y 
causing tlu^ sound vibrjilions to cut i(p and down 
meant, according to the laws of physics, that the 
vibrations, while being registered, would contin- 
uously be cut out of propoiMlon to the force used by 
the voice. A distortion of the voice would inevitably 
result. A more perfect method would consist, Ber- 
liner' argued, in so registering the voice that the 
force required to do so would prevent distortion of 
the registered vibrations, lie concluded that the 
vibrations nnist all be of the same depth. From this 
theory ho developed what ever since has been known 
ns the lafcrcd rut record, in which the vibrations are 
tocot'ded Mdarisc like writing. MMiis, as Mr. Olark 
of the Fnglish granio])lHnio c(un]iany ])oints out, is 
Another fundamental factor in the talking-machino 
art as we know it to-day. 


As the Bell-Tainter patents for the graphophone 
covered every form of a record cut in wax, Berliner 
determined to go back to the original recording idea 
of the Scott phonautograph of 1857 and from that 
to produce a record groove by the process of photo- 
engraving. With this conclusion in mind he con- 
structed a small cylinder phonautograph and started 
makir ttern records of his voice on a paper sur- 
face was fastened around the cylinder and 
was with soot from a smoky flame. He 
"fixed voice writings by pouring a shellac solu- 
tion ovt'L I tom. 

After Berliner had become quite proficient in 
these exjjcriments he cut one of the paper tubes into 
a strip, and took this ''voice writing" to Maurice 
Joyce, a well-known photo-engraver in Washington, 
who etched the record into a piece of flat zinc. 
Berliner then sawed off the front part of a telephone 
receiver, the portion that held the diaphragm, and 
affixed to it a stylus (or needle) across the center so 
that the free end of the needle extended beyond the 
diaphragm. To this free end he attached a steel pin, 
stuck a small horn into the hole of the sound box, 
and moved the point of the pin through the photo- 
engraved lines by hand. The vibrations of the voice 
in the plate (in this early process, photo-engraved) 
moved the point of the pin, which in turn set the 
diaphragm vibrating and thereby reproduced the 
original talk. In that manner Berliner got snatches 
of articulation coming as from a human voice. It 
proved that his general conception was correct. 


After having fully satisfied himself that the lat- 
eral cut was the only logical and perfect process for 
correctly recording the voice, Berliner's next step 
was to rig up a turn-table similar to that used now- 
adays on disk talking machines. His machine was 
hand-driven, which meant the turning of a handle 
during the whole time a record was played, but it 
contained a fly wheel that insured regularity of mo- 
tion. A small framework that could be moved side- 
wise by a screw held the recording sound box. On the 
turn-table Berliner laid a heavy round glass plate 
made for the purpose, which could be taken off and 
blackened over a smoky flame. The recording sound 
box was carefully adjusted; so that an elastic stylus 
just touched the smoky surface of the glass plate. In 
this manner a flat disk record was finally produced. 
After the record had been ''fixed" by shellac 
varnish, Berliner took it to Joyce, who quickly 
turned out the first flat disk-record made by the 
photo-engraving process. This historic "pancake" 
has an honorable place among scientific relics in the 
National Museum at Washington. 

While Berliner reproduced from this first disk 
record, he noticed that even when he disengaged the 
screw mechanism the record groove itself would 
hold the stylus of the sound box. Immediately he 
realized that in voice reproducing the screw mechan- 
ism could be discarded. It has never been used since 

Besides its reproducing superiority, the gramo- 


phone mechanism was of materially greater sim- 
plicity. For reproducing a phonograph-graphophone 
record, because it was done in a soft material, a fine 
screw mechanism was required to propel the repro- 
ducing sound box and stylus needle across the 
record lines. In the gramophone record, which was 
in hard material like metal or composition, the 
record disk is merely revolved; the needle of the 
sound box is dropped into the groove, and this, while 
playing the music, not only vibrates the diaphragm 
(throwing the music into the horn), but also propels 
the needle across the record disk at the same time. 
It will be seen that this automatic propulsion is 
necessarily smoother than where propulsion is 
caused by an outside, unrelated force. The self- 
propulsion which Berliner oiiginated was eventually 
applied to all existing talking machines as soon as 
Berliner's patent expired in 1912. 

Early in 1888 Berliner fitted up a couple of 
rooms on G Street, not far from the quarters he 
occupied when he invented the microphone eleven 
years before. He needed a more central location for 
his busy workshop and now continued his researches 
witliin the shadow of the United States Patent Office. 
Preceding an address which Berliner made there in 
March, 1926, before four hundred patent examiners, 
the Assistant Commissioner of Patents, William A. 
Kinnan, who presided over the meeting, introduced 
the veteran scientist with the remark that ''many 
inventors had laid a biick, here and there, in the 


structure of civilization, but here is a man who has 
added a whole wall." 

Berliner now indulged in the luxury of an as- 
sistant by the name of Werner Suess, who once 
worked for Robert Wilhelm von Bunsen, a professor 
at Heidelberg University. A noted chemist and 
physicist, von Bunsen in 1855 invented the burner 
which bears his name. Since then it has been pos- 
sible to burn coal gas with an intensely hot and 
smokeless flame. Everybody who lights an ordinary 
gas stove is putting to work a series of Bunsen 
burners. Suess was the man who constructed one of 
the two induction coils Berliner used when, years 
before, he had fashioned his triumphant telephone 
apparatus. He was older than Berliner — a quaint, 
stocky, sturdy, ruddy-faced, bespectacled German 
and had been a close student of Berliner's work 
during the intervening years, Suess, though only a 
mechanic, was full of intelligent interest and en- 
thusiasm. He was also addicted to telling stories 
and the little Berliner laboratory was not exclu- 
sively an arena of scientific discussion. 

Emile Berliner was now sure that a perfected 
disk talking machine had a great future, and that 
records for such a machine could be duplicated end- 
lessly, provided the process was carefully worked 
out. That became his next objective. 



ON May 16, 1888, six months after the issuance 
of his gramophone patent, Emile Berliner 
gave the first public exhibition of his ingenious 
method of ''etching the human voice." The scene 
of that epoch-making event, as befitted its scientific 
importance, was the Franklin Institute at Philadel- 
phia, which had in\'ited Berliner to read at one of its 
stated meetings a paper on his latest achievement in 

To that famed American clearing-house for the 
display and elucidation of the newest things in sci- 
ence, Berliner, accompanied by the faithful and 
rotund Suess, trundled through the streets of the 
Centennial City a strange collection of parapherna- 
lia, including the gramophone recorder, the record- 
ing diaphragm and stylus, and the reproducing 

It was universally realized that both the tele- 
phone and the talking machine, although they had 
long since ceased to be novelties, were only in their 
swaddling clothes. Men with vision recognized and 
discerned their illimitable possibilities, but these 



were yet to emerge. The Franklin Institute's in- 
terest in what Berliner had to reveal in the talking- 
machine field was correspondingly eager. At the 
old graystone building on South Seventh Street, a 
etill existing symbol of the Philadelphia of intellec- 
tual tradition, Berliner and Suess found the little 
amphitheater-like auditorium packed to its farther- 
most seat with some four hundred men and women 
on the tiptoe of expectancy. 

Curiosity was particularly keen mth regard to 
the inventor's process of recording sound waves, 
whereby the human voice was captured, imprisoned 
in enduring metal, liberated at will, and then locked 
up again. Spoiled, matter-of-fact moderns, addicted 
to the habit of taking miracles for granted, can only 
imagine the sensation which Berliner's gramophone 
concert caused at Philadelphia. It was the debut of 
** canned music" — John Philip Sousa's celebrated 
description of the talking-machine art. To-day, di- 
rectly across the Delaware from Philadelphia at 
Camden, ''His Master's Voice," thanks to Emile 
Berliner's pioneer achievement, is reproduced in 
millions of exemplars for the entertainment and the 
education of the civilized universe. In May, 1913, 
on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first exliibi- 
tion of the gramophone on its premises, the Frank- 
lin Institute awarded Berliner its highest honor — 
the Elliott Cresson gold medal "in recognition of 
important contributions to telephony and to the 
science and art of sound reproduction." On the 


same occasion medals were presented to Charles 
Proteus Steinmetz "for achievements in the field of 
electrical engineering"; to Lord Rayleigh, of Eng- 
land, *'for researches in physical science," and to 
Emil Fischer, of Berlin, ''for contributions to the 
science of organic and biological chemistry." 

The lesson of simplicity which the telephone was 
continuously preaching caused Berliner at an early 
date to look for a simpler plan to attain his purpose 
in connection with the talking machine. In the 
specification originally filed by him at the United 
States Patent Office, he said: ''This record [mean- 
ing the phonautogram] may then be engraved either 
mechanically, chemically, or photo-chemically." Al- 
though for a long time mthout much hope for suc- 
cess, the idea of the purely chemical process of 
direct etching haunted him continuously, and was 
repeatedly suggested by others. 

It was more easily suggested than carried out. 
Under the principles of the gramophone the etching 
ground was to offer practically no resistance to the 
stylus. To construct a ground which had no resist- 
ance mechanically, but would resist the etching fluid 
after the tracing was done, was the problem to be 

"You ^rill readily see," Berliner told his Frank- 
lin Institute audience in May, 1888, "that if we can 
cover, for instance, a polished metal plate with a 
delicate etching ground, trace in this a phonauto- 
gram, and then immerse the plate in an etching fluid, 


the lines will be eaten in, and the result will be a 
groove of even depth, such as is required for repro- 
duction. Such a process, of course, would be much 
more direct and quicker than the photo-engraving 

"In nature provision seems to be made for all the 
wants of mankind. Confident in this belief, I kept 
on tiying to find a trail which would lead to promis- 
ing results, and I have the honor to-night, for the 
first time, to bring before you this latest achieve- 
ment in the art of producing permanent sound 
records from which a reproduction can be obtained, 
if necessary, mthin fifteen or twenty minutes, and 
which can be accurately multiplied in any number 
by the electrotype process. It may be termed, in 
short, the art of etching the human voiced 

The etching ground which Berliner used was a 
fatty ink. One of the best inks he discovered was 
made by digesting pure yellow beeswax in cold gaso- 
line or benzine. Benzine in a cold state did not dis- 
solve all the elements of the wax, but only a small 
part — namely, that which combined with the yellow 
coloring principle. The resultant and decanted ex- 
tract was a clear solution of a golden hue, which 
gradually became bleached by exposure to light. 
The proi>ortions Berliner employed were one ounce 
of finely scraped wax to one pint of gasoline. 

He then took a polished metal plate — generally 
zinc — and flowed the fluid on and off, as if he were 
coating with collodion. The benzine quickly evap- 


orated and there remained a very thin layer of wax 
fat, iridescent under reflected light, not solid as a 
coating produced by immersion in a melted mass, 
but spongy or porous, and extremely sensitive to the 
lightest touch. Partly on account of the too great 
sensitiveness of a single film, and also as an addi- 
tional protection against the action of the acids em- 
ployed in the subsequent etching, Berliner applied 
a second coating of the solution. This double coat, 
he found, answered all requirements. 

With many weeks of tedious experiment behind 
him, Berliner now took a number of zinc disks, had 
them highly polished, cleaned the surface with gaso- 
line, warmed them and poured the yellow fat solu- 
tion over them. In the meantime he had constructed 
a turn-table machine on which the prepared zinc disk 
could be mounted and revolved at regular speed, 
while a small reservoir of alcohol dripped the fluid 
on the fatty film. The previously used phonauto- 
graphic recording sound box and stylus were 
mounted over the disk so that the point of the stylus 
cut through the fatty film. The whole mechanism 
was given a progressive motion, so that when the 
disk was rotated the stylus of the sound box in- 
scribed a spiral line into the fatty film. If now 
somebody spoke into the phonautogi^aphic sound 
box, the line in the fatty film assumed the wavy 
forms of the sound vibrations ; and when the record 
disk was immersed into the acid solution the record 
lines were etched into the zinc, forming a groove of 


even depth and varying direction as distinguislied 
from the phonograph-graphophone record consist- 
ing of a groove of straight direction, but of varying 

By the early spring of 1888 Berliner had made 
sufficient progress to enable him to manufacture 
modern disk sound records out of zinc plates. To 
make records, he invited pianists, violinists, singers 
and lecturers to his laboratory. One day a couple of 
Spaniards arrived with an introduction from a mu- 
tual friend. They wanted to see the gramophone in 
action. Berliner had just made an exceptionally 
good record of a coloratura soprano, and he played 
it for his temperamental callers, placing them di- 
rectly in front of the horn. One of them, a black- 
eyed, fiery South American, became very excited, 
as the amorous tones of the invisible prima donna 
emerged from a mysterious somewhere. When the 
singer finished, on a beautiful high trill, the Span- 
iard, all enraptured, turned to Berliner and enthu- 
siastically exclaimed: "Oh, I could just hees herP* 

Once Berliner's father-in-law waited outside of 
the laboratory because he heard the inventor speak- 
ing as if engaged in making a record. When the 
monologue was finished, Mr. Adler walked in, and, 
to his surprise, found that Berliner had not spoken 
at all, but was merely playing a record of his own 
voice. Experiences like these convinced Berliner 
that he was on the high road to practical results 
with the gramophone. 


The Franklin Institute exhibition proved to be 
the forerunner of a tremendous activity and of a de- 
velopment in the talking-machine industry that has 
not halted to this day. Berliner had thus far been 
able to display original first records only, although at 
Philadelphia he showed a duplicate made by the or- 
dinary electrolysis process. As soon as he and Suess 
returned to Washington, Berliner set his whole mind 
to work on a feasible and practical method for mak- 
ing unlimited duplicates from an original disk. He 
soon matured a general plan which consisted of 
making of an original zinc record a perfect reverse 
or matrix by the process of electrotyping. This 
showed the record lines raised over the surface of 
the disk. The reverse matrix was to be used for 
impressing the record lines on some softened mate- 
rial like hard rubber and celluloid, exactly as seals 
are made by impressing an engraved letter or de- 
sign into sealing wax. 

Berliner encountered endless difficulties in try- 
ing to produce an accurate reverse of an original 
zinc record, because unless the matrix, down to its 
very surface, was a faithful reproduction, the re- 
verse would not be sufficient to answer the demand 
for accurate sound copies. It was four years before 
Berliner finally succeeded in perfecting matrices 
with complete certainty from any zinc record. 

In this important work of developing absolute 
sound copies in unlimited numbers, Berliner had 
the cooperation of Max Levy, of Philadelphia, a 


technician of great ability. Levy was the well- 
known inventor and first manufacturer of the glass- 
ruled screens used all over the world in making 
half-tone reproductions of photographs. By 1892 
perfect matrices were obtained. It was found that 
after the copper surfaces were nickel-plated they 
could be impressed without deterioration into hard 
rubber, celluloid, or composition previously softened 
by heat. 

It seemed to all concerned as if the gramophone 
with its flat disk duplicate records was now ready 
for commercial exploitation. The Berliner Gramo- 
phone Company of Philadelphia in fact began to 
manufacture small hand-driven machines and asked 
Berliner to make in Washington an assortment of 
records comprising a sufficiently varied repertoire 
to satisfy a small popular demand. Then a serious 
hitch occurred. The hard-rubber concern, which 
had undertaken to press as many records as might 
be demanded from the matrices furnished by Ber- 
liner, found that it could not produce records of 
even quality. There were flat places here and there, 
caused by gases developed by the rubber when 
heated, which rendered the whole output unreliable. 

At this critical stage Berliner recalled the un- 
successful attempt in 1879 of the Bell Company to 
utilize an imitation rubber composition for a 
cheaper hand telephone. Berliner now approached 
a manufacturer of imitation hard rubber and fur- 
nished him with a gramophone matrix. Within a 


week the manufacturer supplied a dozen perfect disk 
records. Ever since then, the countless millions of 
disk records sold annually throughout the world 
have been made from a similar material. The base 
of the composition is shellac, which is also the base 
of sealing wax, and it is literally correct to say that 
a modern disk record is a seal of the human voice. 

In the practise worked out by Berliner, and fol- 
lowed to this day, a lump of shellac composition 
material was softened by heat. It was placed under 
a matrix in a power-press. The applied pressure 
spread the composition and pressed the lines of the 
matrix into it. The matrix and the pressed composi- 
tion copy were then chilled. A hard composition 
copy was the result. 

Thus for the first time in the history of talking 
machines ivas solved the problem of snaking un- 
limited copies of one original record. Berliner had 
laid the foundations of a business of gigantic dimen- 

*Waldeuiar Kaempffert, one-time editor of the Scientific Amer- 
ican and co-author of A Popular History of American Invention, 

"Although milliong of talking-machine records are in use to-day, 
very few of those who derive enjoyment from them realize that the 
acoustic principle on which they are based was Emile Berliner 's dis- 
covery. In other words, what is known in the trade as the 'lateral 
cut' record is his invention, 

"The tremendous importance of the lateral cut is demonstrated 
by the fact that a large proportion of the flat-disk records which 
have been made embody Berliner 's principle. Hence he played a far 
larger part than is commonly realized in bringing into millions of 
homes music and speech of the finest quality. Whatever the telephone 
and the talking machine may have been before Berliner's time, I 
think it can not be successfully disputed that he converted them into 
the instruments they are to-day. ' ' 



HAVING eight years earlier revisited the land 
of his birth with brow bedecked with tele- 
phone laurels, Emile Berliner determined in 1889 to 
return to Germany with the latest product of his 
inventiveness — the gramophone. lie was still in the 
midst of his talliing-machine experiments, but was 
convinced of the indisputable soundness of the theo- 
ries that underlay them, and did not shrink from 
submitting his work to the scrutiny of men with 
whom wissenschaftliche Griindliclikcit (scientific 
thoroughness) is little short of religion. If the 
gramophone passed muster at their exacting hands, 
Berliner realized it would bear an invaluable hall- 
mark. Germany was already acquainted with the 
Bell-Tainter graphophone and the Edison phono- 

Nearly all Europe had become familiar with the 
name '* Berliner" on telephone transmitters. Ger- 
many, on her part, ever ready to reclaim a native 
son who had successfully wooed the goddess of fame, 
especially in the scientific realm, was particularly 



fertile soil in which to plant the Berliner conception 
of the talking machine. 

Berliner took with him from Washington a 
varied assortment of original zinc records compris- 
ing vocal and instrumental music. His baggage also 
included a complete recording outfit and a hand- 
driven reproducing machine. The expedition, con- 
sisting of the inventor and his young family, made 
straight for his native heath at Hanover and laid 
plans to remain in Germany a year. 

In Hanover Berliner's two brothers were now 
operating a large and successful factory for the 
manufacture of telephone apparatus. In it facilities 
were placed at the inventor's disposal for continued 
experimental work on the gramophone, the arrival 
of which at once excited the interest of technical 
societies in all parts of the country. The society 
which had its headquarters at Hanover, one of the 
throbbing centers of the newly industrialized Ger- 
man Empire, promptly invited the Hannoverkind 
(child of Hanover) to address it and exhibit the 

Berliner received an enthusiastic welcome. A 
professor of the Hanover Institute of Technology, 
who was in attendance, complimented him upon his 
thoroughly scientific presentation. That was praise 
from Sir Hubert; for Geimans of that day were 
inclined to \dew with skepticism bordering upon 
intolerance the merits of men who laid claim to 
scientific attainments without having been educated 


up to them through the tedious, grinding method of 
a specialized academic training. The one-time dry- 
goods clerk of Hanover had ''arrived" by a route 
that German scientists were not accustomed to 
travel. Berliner's career, in their eyes, was wholly 

The fame of the latest talking-machine marvel 
from America spread rapidly through the news- 
papers. It was not long before the German Imperial 
Patent Office, through Berliner's patent attorney 
in Berlin, invited him to display and elucidate the 
gramophone before its staff of examiners. The ex- 
hibition was so successful that the Commissioner of 
Patents asked him to repeat it before a group of 
distinguished government engineers and scientists. 
Among the company invited on that occasion was 
the celebrated pianist, Hans von Biilow, whose wife 
was a daughter of Herr von Bojanowski, the Com- 
missioner of Patents. Von Biilow was fascinated by 
a piano record which Berliner had made at Wash- 
ington with conspicuous success. Before the assem- 
bled dignitaries of science and the official world, von 
Biilow predicted a brilliant future for the gramo- 
phone. Its possibilities in the realm of Apollo, of 
course, particularly stirred the imagination of the 
German virtuoso. 

It was during Berliner's sojourn in Berlin that 
the Electro-Technical Society of the Imperial capi- 
tal, comprising the aristocracy of German scientific 
brains, invited him to attend its regular meeting on 


November 26, 1889. One of the announced features 
of the program was an exhibition and demonstra- 
tion of Edison's phonograph. The secretary of the 
society, having learned of Berliner's presence in the 
city, invited him to attend the meeting, and, if he 
desired, to acquaint the membership with the gramo- 

Berliner readily availed himself of this flatter- 
ing opportunity. No one who has not personally 
brushed shoulders with the intellectual superiority 
which Prussian kiiltur, especially of the scientific 
brand, has since time immemorial arrogated to it- 
self, can adequately grasp what it meant for the 
technically uneducated young Washington inventor 
to address so exclusive and discriminating an au- 
dience as Berliner was about to face. They were 
the elite of German science, expert in their various 
lines, and, with regard to anything new under the 
scientific sun, were what we unregenerate Ameri- 
cans to-day would call '^hard boiled." Also, to 
venture still further into the Yankee vernacular, 
they were men who required very decidedly to be 
*' shown" before they could be convinced. 

Berliner was commensurately conscious that he 
confronted an ordeal. Uneifaceable in his memory 
remains the recollection of the awe-inspiring pres- 
ence in which he eventually found himself that rainy 
midwinter night in Berlin thirty-seven years ago. 
On the rostrum, resplendent in his regimentals, sat 
the president of the society, Lieutenant-General 


Golz of the Prussian Army. Other officers in uni- 
form, who traditionally lent distinction to any kind 
of a function in Prussia, were present in numbers, 
for the German Army, even in those pre-Armaged- 
don days, elevated science to a high place in the 
war scheme. 

Addressing the Carnegie Peace Endowment's 
round-table on disarmament at Briarcliff Manor in 
May, 192G, Doctor Edwin E. Slosson, Director of 
Science Service and author of Creative Chemistry, 
said: "That Germany was able to hold out so long 
against encircling enemies was due less to Hinden- 
burg than to Fritz Haber, who discovered how to 
extract nitrogen for explosives from the air and 
thus blow over the blockade. War has been vir- 
tually a branch of applied chemistry ever since the 
invention of gunpowder, or even from the first forg- 
ing of the steel sword from the ore." 

From his unobtrusive seat in the audience of five 
hundred Berliner observed the Edison cylinder 
phonograph on the platform, which, during the 
course of the evening, was explained, exhibited and 
made to perform. The regular program having 
been carried out, a soldier-member of the Electro- 
Technical Society arose and informed the meeting 
that Emile Berliner, "from America," was present 
and had consented to present the type of talking 
machine that he had invented. To the accompani- 
ment of courteous applause and amid the liveliest 
interest, Berliner took the platform for some pre- 


liminarj^ observations before introducing the gramo- 
phone. He had carefully prepared his remarks in 
German, because, though commanding the language 
with fluency, he was less proficient with its technical 
lingo than he had become with English scientific 
terminology through his inventive career at Wash- 

"To me has come the unexpected honor," he 
said, ''of being asked to explain the gramophone 
before this society and give an exhibition of both 
its recording and reproducing processes. Although 
at the moment I am only inadequately prepared, I 
hope that it will not be difficult for me, even ^^^ith- 
out holding demonstrating experiments, for which 
I lack the proper apparatus in Berlin, to elucidate 
those few points which will contribute to an under- 
standing of the mechanical and chemical processes 
underlying the gramophone." 

Then, in the course of a terse, modest, fifteen- 
minute address, which made an unmistakably deep 
impression on his audience, Berliner traced, step 
by step, the genesis of the gramophone and of the 
lateral cut disk record. ''In conclusion," he said, 
"I believe I am justified in saying, not only on the 
basis of actual experiments, but from the standpoint 
of fundamental principles of physics, that the pho- 
nograph already has reached the limits of its tech- 
nical possibilities, while the gramophone, on the 
other hand, has only begun to tread the new paths 
of its immeasurable development. I leave it to your 


judgment to determine whether this opinion is a 
tenable one." 

Berliner, Avith that final passage, deliberately 
threw down the gauntlet to the Edison phonograph 
in the supreme court of German science and in terms 
that lacked nothing of confident and frank avowal. 
When the inventor of the gramophone finished 
his address, a volley of applause indicated that his 
arguments had not failed to carry conviction to most 
of the assembled engineers and technicians. Then 
came a dramatic interlude. 

Privy Government Councilor Doctor Werner von 
Siemens, the celebrated electrical engineer and 
founder of the world-famed Siemens-Halske and 
Siemens-Schuckert electrical concerns, asked for the 
floor. He said that "it was certainly extremely in- 
teresting" to them all to see these two American 
inventions, the phonograph and the gramoi3hone, in 
action, cheek by jowl. He had himself, he explained, 
never seen or heard the gramophone before. **It is 
extraordinarily important and interesting," von 
Siemens pointed out, that Berliner had evolved a 
system of recording that "made it possible, if not 
even probable" that the gramophone, when thor- 
oughly worked out, would reproduce the tones of 
speech more clearly than the phonograph repro- 
duced them. "The gramophone," continued von 
Siemens, "has in addition the great advantage of 
utilizing a record etched in zinc and therefore in 
more durable material than a wax cylinder. The 


gramophone will in consequence deteriorate less 
through use and better resist the teeth of time." 

Having paid this ungrudging tribute to the 
superior merits of the gramophone, Doctor von 
Siemens then said that he felt called upon to make 
what he termed ''some passing honorable mention 
(eine hleine Ehrenerhldrung) of the apparatus of 
my friend Edison." Von Siemens proceeded: 
''Herr Berliner told us a few minutes ago that the 
phonograph can not reproduce the voice in natural 
tones because the depth of the recorded impression 
is not proportional to the voice pressure. . . . "VVe 
have, as a matter of fact, to-night heard the pho- 
nograph reproduce the voice completely and with 
wonderful clearness. I think it is appropriate to 
call attention to this essential purity of the Edison 
phonograph. ' ' 

''Herr Ingenieur" Berliner was immediately 
recognized by the chairman for the purpose of a 
brief rejoinder to Doctor von Siemens. *'In my 
short address," he said, ''the reference to the pho- 
nograph's reproducing qualities applied only to loud 
reproduction. I did not say that the phonograph 
does not reproduce naturally, but that when it re- 
produces loudly, its tones are not natural. I merely 
wished to stress that point." 

Berliner's story of the gramophone later was 
published in full in the official organ of the Berlin 
Electro-Technical Society. To this day it remains a 
standard contribution to German scientific litera- 


ture and part of the official history of the talking 

Some eight or ten weeks after the Electro-Tech- 
nical Society affair, word was cabled to the United 
States that an Edison-Berliner ''competition" had 
taken place in the German capital. The New York 
World received through "Dunlap's Cable News 
Service" and x^ublished on February 5, 1890, under 
the caption "Phonograph vs. Gramophone," the 
f ollomng despatch : 

''Berlin, Feb. 4 — Edison's phonograph and Ber- 
liner's gramophone were put in competition to-day. 
Berliner, who is an American citizen, was declared 
the victor. Siemens, the electrician, and a crowd of 
distinguished people attended." 

The despatch made a profound impression in the 
United States. Next day's New York World, in an 
editorial note, said : 

"The statement cabled to The World that in a 
competition in Berlin between Edison's phonograph 
and Berliner's gramophone the latter was declared 
the victor created considerable excitement in elec- 
trical circles. Neither instrument embodies any 
electrical principle, both having purely mechanical 
contrivances, but both of the inventors are well 
known in electrical circles, and hence the interest, 
which is intense, has been fired by the fact that but 
few people were aware that Berliner had entered 
into competition mth Edison in the latter 's favorite 
invention. It is a fact, however, that Berliner pat- 
ented his gramophone several years ago, and it was 
exhibited in this city, Washington, Boston and else- 

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where and attracted attention, but was not con- 
sidered a serious, rival to the phonograph, owing to 
its being more complicated and cumbersome." 

The Evening JVorld of February 5, 1890, under 
the head-lines "Edison Has a New Rival — Ber- 
liner's Gramophone Awarded a Victory over the 
Phonograph," said: 

'*A despatch from Berlin conveys the intelli- 
gence that Thomas A. Edison, the inventor of the 
phonograph, has been beaten in competition in that 
city by a man named Berliner, with a talking ma- 
chine called the gramophone. The sad intelligence 
is in a manner softened, however, by the fact that 
Berliner is an American citizen, and is a resident 
of Washington. ' ' 


A signal honor was now to be vouchsafed the 
young American inventor. The proceedings be- 
fore the Electro-Technical Society of Berlin having 
been broadcast throughout the German scientific 
world, they attracted the attention of Herman von 
Helmholtz, the world-famed professor of physics at 
the University of Berlin, projector of the theory of 
the conservation of energy, and the first exponent 
of the meaning of color both in vision and in music 
and speech. Excellenz von Helmholtz was then di- 
rector of the Physical Institute of the University. 

Michael Pupin, author of From Immigrant to 
Inventor, whose eminent career in American science 
is not unlike that of Emile Berliner, was a student 
of von Helmholtz in experimental physics a year or 


two before Berliner's arrival in Berlin. "Von 
Helmlioltz's title," writes Pupin, ''conferred upon 
him by the old Emperor ("William I), was Excellens, 
and the whole teaching staff of the institute stood 
in awe when the name of Excellenz was mentioned. 
The whole scientific world of Germany, nay, the 
whole intellectual world of Germany, stood in awe 
when the name of Excellenz von Helmholtz was pro- 
nounced. Next to Bismarck and the old Kaiser, he 
was at that time the most illustrious man in the Ger- 
man Empire." 

On the morning of January 7, 1890, six weeks 
after the "phonograph-gramophone" episode at the 
Electro-Technical Society, Berliner received at the 
Hotel Kaiserhof, his Berlin stopping-place, the fol- 
lowing handwritten letter (in German) : 

" Charlottenburg, 6. Januar 1890. 
" Marsch-strasse. 
' ' Imperial Physical Institute. 
"Dear Sir; 

"I would certainly be very grateful to you if you 
would give me opportunity to become acquainted 
with the workings of the gramophone. I could not 
find the time yesterday for the somewhat long jour- 
ney to the Belle Alliance Theater [where there had 
been a gramophone demonstration]. If it is agree- 
able to you to repeat the experiments in the Hotel 
Kaiserhof, I will come there the day after to-mor- 
row at one-fifteen o'clock p. m., as I happen to be 
going to the city that day. May I bring those of my 
assistants who have concerned themselves with the 
phonograph ? 

"Should you prefer to hold the demonstration 
in rooms that are fitted up for experiments, rather 


than in hotel rooms, this can take place in a room of 
Division No. 2 of the Imperial Phj'sical Institute 
(Charlottenburg, Berliner-strasse 151) perhaps on 

*'In that case, I would only ask you to be good 
enough to notify the director of that division. Doctor 
Loewenberg, just exactly what you will be bringing 
along with you. 

"Yours sincerelv, 

"H. vonHeimholtz." 
"Herr Emile Berliner, 

Berliner informed Excellent von Hehnholtz that 
the former's living quarters at the Kaiserhof — the 
capacious hostelry on the Wilhelms Platz that in its 
day housed generations of American tourists — 
would adequately serve the purpose. One of Ber- 
liner's rooms was commodious and was filled, for the 
occasion of von Hehnholtz 's visit, with extra chairs. 

A few minutes after one o'clock on Wednesday, 
January eighth, there came a knock at Berliner's 
door. "Herr Ingenieur Berliner?" inquired one of 
two men who stood at the threshold, clicking heels 
and standing in salute, German military fashion, as 
the American received from their hands cards at- 
testing that they were assistants to Excellenz Pro- 
fessor Doctor von Helmholtz. Berliner welcomed 
them, and asked them to be seated. There was an- 
other rap on the door. Three more men clicked 
heels, saluted and presented cards. They, too, were 
assistants to von Helmholtz. Then ensued a succes- 
sion of knocks, chcked-heels, salutes and visiting 


cards, all identifying their bearers as Helmholtzian 
lieutenants. Evidently the eminent physicist had 
decided to mobilize his entire scientific staff at Ber- 
liner's gramophone soiree. 

Within a few minutes every chair was occupied 
and standing-room only available. Berliner counted 
an audience of thirty. As there was hardly space 
enough for demonstrating purposes, he asked the 
hotel to open up an adjoining parlor to accommodate 
the overflow. Presently von Helmholtz himself, 
accompanied by his chief assistant, arrived, prompt- 
ly at the appointed hour of one-fifteen o'clock. 

Berliner accounts their meeting one of the red- 
letter events of his life. It was a triumphant mo- 
ment for him and one that was significantly rich in 
contrast — the world-celebrated, profoundly trained 
university man of science, the colossus of his pro- 
fession, in democratic contact on the common 
ground of inventive genius mth a self-taught, self- 
made man of science, who had scaled the Olympian 
heights with no equipment except that which intui- 
tion breeds and preseverance develops. 

Von Helmholtz was on the verge of his seventieth 
year. He had an enormous head. His face was 
deeply furrowed and distended veins stood out upon 
a massive brow, beneath which a pair of protruding, 
penetrating eyes betokened the restless searcher for 
the scientifically unknown. His whole mien was 
that of a profound thinker; and his entire appear- 
ance, compellingly striking. No one could possibly 


mistake liim for anything but a giant in the domain 
of learning. Von Helmholtz was partly Anglo- 
Saxon, his mother having been a lineal descendant 
of William Penn. Pupin records an aphorism of 
Helmholtz that has been one of the keynotes of 
Emile Berliner's life: "A few experiments success- 
fully carried out usually lead to results more im- 
portant than all mathematical theories." 

The great physicist was cordial, gracious, nat- 
ural and interested. He greeted Berliner with a 
kindly warmth that completely disarmed the young 
inventor of any semblance of stage fright in the 
presence of so eminent a personage. 

Helmholtz and his staff of assistants were so de- 
lighted with the exhibition of the gramophone that 
they urged the American to visit the Imperial Phy- 
sical Institute and make some gramophone records 
in the well-equipped laboratories there. Berliner re- 
luctantly had to decline the invitation because at the 
time he was without recording apparatus. 

Not long after the visit from von Helmholtz, 
Berliner appeared before the Technical Society of 
Frankfort-on-the-Main, the same organization to 
which Philip Reis belonged and before which the 
latter had many years previous exhibited his famous 
conception of the Frenchman Bourseuil's telephone. 

German science having bestowed its august 
blessing upon the Berliner gramophone, German in- 
dustry now turned its attention in that direction. 
The very first concern in the world to reveal com- 


mereial interest in the gramophone was a doll fac- 
tory in the Thuringian Forest, that mountainous 
wood in northern Germany whence the toys of the 
world once came almost exclusively and amid the 
romantic heights of which stands the Wartburg — 
the castle in which Martin Luther sought refuge and 
threw his famous inkpot at the Devil, and the arena 
of the traditional Sdngerkreig immortalized by 
Wagner in Die Meister singer. 

The Thuringian dollmakers said that if this mir- 
acle-worker aus Amerika could make a zinc plate 
talk, they didn 't see why he couldn 't make their wax 
dolls talk. Berliner was not minded to branch into 
the special researches and experiments which their 
proposals would have entailed. But he arranged 
with the firm to make for them tiny gramophones 
for which records only five inches in diameter were 
pressed in celluloid. Those miniature talking ma- 
chines, the outgrowth of a suggestion from the 
haunts of Kris Kringle, were the earliest gramo- 
phones placed on the market for public sale. The 
first pressed copy of a gramophone record, pro- 
duced by Berliner in the course of his pioneer ex- 
periments, was made in celluloid in 1888 and is still 
on exhibition at the National Museum, Washington. 

In the autumn of 1890, the gramophone having 
made a triumphal debut in Europe, Emile Berliner 
returned to the United States, to devote himself in- 
tensively to the working out of details that would 
perfect the machine to a point whereby its popular 
appeal to the American public would be irresistible. 



THE sun never sets on the British Empire nor 
Emile Berliner's talking machine. To-day the 
gramophone sings and plays in forty languages. It 
has literally set the world to music. It is manu- 
factured in nearly a dozen different countries. 
Everywhere, except in the United States, the talk- 
ing machine which Berliner invented is known as 
the gramophone. Out of it has grown one of Ameri- 
ca's mighty industries. The gramophone does not 
represent the first attempt at a talking machine, as 
is disclosed by the account of its genesis in preced- 
ing chapters. But it turned out to be scientifically 
the most perfect machine and indisputably the most 
commercially successful product of its kind ever 
placed on the market. 

Emile Berliner's love of music is inherent and 
inherited. Nurtured in childhood at Hanover by 
his mother, it was mainly that which inspired him 
to work out a machine which would essentially 
be a music-making machine. As a young man, 
Berliner studied music, and became something more 
than a proficient amateur at the piano and violin. 



He still plays both of those instruments. He has 
always had a sound theoretical knowledge of music, 
and it served him effectively throughout his many 
years of acoustic experiment and achievement. In 
earlier life he sang. When Leopold Damrosch 
founded the New York Oratorio Society in the be- 
ginning of the 'seventies, young Berliner became one 
of its members and was a baritone in The Messiah, 
Elijah and Sams,on. 

Berliner has been a composer, as well as an in- 
terpreter, of music. One of his patriotic composi- 
tions, The Columbian Anthem, was first heard at the 
national council of the Daughters of the American 
Revolution in Washington on Washington's Birth- 
day, 1897. On Flag Day of the same year The Co- 
lumbian Anthem was presented, with full chorus 
and orchestra, by the Castle Square Opera Com- 
pany at the LaFayette Square Opera House in 
Washington, and sung in a number of public schools 
at the National Capital and at New York. On Sep- 
tember 18, 1897, the United States Marine Band, 
under the famous conductor Professor Fanciulli, 
played Berliner's anthem as the opening number 
of the program at a garden party of the President 
and Mrs. McKinley in the White House grounds. 

The Baltimore American, commenting on the 
White House concert, said: 

''Considering that this country has not a na- 
tional melody other than those borrowed from Eu- 
rope, the Columbian Anthem of Emile Berliner has 


a good chance some day to be selected as our na- 
tional inelod}^ It is remarkable for its stately dig- 
nity and lias within it that patriotic stir and catchi- 
ness bound to make it popular. It is short, like the 
English, Eussian and Austrian hymns, and as a 
composition ranks easily with the best national 
hymns ever written." 

The Columbian Anthem was sung for several 
years in the Washington public schools. It was not 
unusual for Berliner to hear schoolboys in the 
streets whistling or humming his song, which was 
alike an expression of his musical soul and a deep 
reverence for the land of his adoption. 

As passion for experiment is embedded in Emile 
Berliner's marrow, his fondness for the violin once 
led him into a quest for the mystery that gives an 
old instrument, like a Stradivarius, a more brilliant 
tone than a newer violin. He finally concluded that 
the solution would have to be found in a considera- 
tion of the uneven pressures to which the adjust- 
ment of the strings subjects the violin box. Berliner 
reasoned that a new violin box did not vibrate freely 
because of the irregular construction caused by the 
base bar and the sound-post, and of the fact that the 
four strings exerted uneven pressures on the fibers 
of the wood. In addition, the tension of the strings 
acted with a crushing pressure on the two ^'feet" of 
the bridge, one of them pressing lightly, the other 
hard and firmly. As a consequence, the fibers of the 
wood were hampered and could not give out the full 
volume of their resonance. Now, argued Berliner, 


as a violin ages and is much played upon, the fibers 
of the wood gradually adjust themselves to the un- 
even pressures of the strings so that eventually the 
fibers are not compressed and give forth freer and 
more even tones. 

To prove this theory Berliner worked out a 
method of stringing which would carry the pressure 
through the center of the violin from the finger 
board to the end where the string holder is usually 
attached, but he abandoned the string holder itself. 
The consequence was that new violins thus strung 
had the same evenness and freedom of tones as long- 
used violins. Berliner furnished a number of such 
instruments to artists, who were surprised at the 
resultant effects. Among them were Leopold Dam- 
rosch and Camilla Urso. Berliner's ideas never 
attained general adoption mainly for the reason that 
violinists were inclined to look upon any radical de- 
parture in the stringing of the violin as heresy, even 
though they recognized the ingenuity and the effec- 
tiveness of Berliner's devices. 

The monumental plant of the Victor Company at 
Camden, New Jersey, is the direct outgrowth of the 
Berliner Gramophone Company founded by Ber- 
liner at Philadelphia in 1892. In an Important Let- 
ter to the Trade, issued by the Victor Talking Ma- 
chine Company on November 8, 1909, in connection 
with ''Victrola Infringement," these statements 
occur : 


"The manufacture and sale of the Gramophone 
was first conducted by the United States Gramo- 
phone Company, followed by the Berliner Gramo- 
phone Company and then by the Victor Talking- 
Machine Company, which latter company acquired 
its rights from the former companies. 

"We now control the original Berliner basic 
patents, and we have the Gramophone developed 
to its present condition. Through our efforts and 
improvements the Gramophone has become an im- 
portant factor in the market, in spite of the general 
opinion among talking-machine manufacturers, at 
the time of its advent, that it was destined to remain 
nothing more than a toy." 

Just as the Bell Telephone Company j^ears be- 
fore had been compelled to defend, as they trium- 
phantly did, the validity and inviolability of the 
Berliner telephone patents, so the Victor Talking 
Machine Company for many years was called upon 
to take up legal arms to protect Berliner's talking- 
machine inventions and rights. "We have met 
infringement and unfair competition very success- 
fully," said the trade circular above quoted; and, 
speaking of "the latest attack," it added: "We are 
obliged again to enter the legal arena, in which we 
believe to exist little doubt of our prompt and deci- 
sive victory." Subsequent events justified that con- 
fidence. The Berliner basic patents in connection 
mth the talking machine have proved as attack- 
proof as the Berliner basic patents in connection 
with the telephone. 

There is a wide-spread but wholly unfounded 
impression that radio, especially the broadcasting of 


music, dealt the talking machine a knock-out blow. 
It is entirely true that in the early months and years 
of radio's vast popularity, in 1923 and 1924, the 
Bale of machines and records fell off seriously. But 
the industry in the meantime has more than re- 
covered its equilibrium and old-time prosperity. At 
the annual stockholders meeting of the Victor Talk- 
ing Machine Company in April, 1926, its astute 
president, Eldridge R. Johnson, was able to report 
that there was more than thirty million dollars' 
worth of orders for apparatus and records on the 
company's books and that the manufacture of one 
hundred thousand records a day was required to 
keep up with the demand. Radio, it would appear, 
has, therefore, not put the talking machine out of 
business. They have, on the contrary, become part- 
ners in the eternal and correspondingly lucrative 
industry of providing happiness, entertainment and 
education to humankind. 

In the United States alone, including the English 
language, talking-machine records are now being 
''published" in no fewer than forty tongues. To 
catalogue them is virtually to tabulate the civilized 
races of the world: 
























Hebrew- Yiddish 







Porto Rican 











In some foreign languages, such as Hebrew- Yid- 
dish and Italian, more than six hundred records 
have been made. There are more than thirteen hun- 
dred Chinese records, shipped principally to China, 
although there is a considerable trade in Cantonese 
records in the United States. 

In addition to the present Victor plant at Cam- 
den, there are nine factories in the world turning 
out talking-machine apparatus of the Berliner 
gramophone basic pattern. The largest of them, 
outside of the United States, is the works of the 
Gramophone Company, Ltd., at Hayes, Middlesex, 
England, which Berliner was mainly instrumental 
in founding in 1899. Until 1923, the Victor Talking 
Machine Company of Canada, at Montreal, was 
knowai as the Berliner Gramophone Company, after 
the name of its organizer. 

The British Gramophone Company, which has an 
invested capital of twelve and one-half million dol- 
lars, operates in Europe, Africa, Australia, New 


Zealand and parts of Asia through subsidiary com- 
panies, branches and distributors. Branch factories 
are situated at Aussig, Czechoslovakia; Nogent-sur- 
Marne, France; Calcutta, India; Barcelona, Spain; 
Sydney, Australia ; Milan, Italy, and Nowawes, Ger- 

Alfred Clark, who grew up in the gramophone 
industry as a lad in the United States, became the 
managing director of the English plant early in the 
present century. During the World War, when all 
of industrial Britain was converted into an arsenal, 
the first factory to be turned completely and eifec- 
tively into a shell-making works was Clark's gramo- 
phone plant at Hayes. It was also, under his 
direction, the first British works to employ girls and 
women on a large scale in the manufacture of muni- 
tions of war. The vast park of fine machine tools 
used in the construction of gramophones and rec- 
ords was swiftly and steadily displaced by lathes 
and the other implements required for production 
of shells. 

It was the relentless rain of British shells that 
kept the enemy at bay on the western front through 
the first two and a half terrible years of the war; 
and it was the ingenuity and industry of British 
manufactories, like the Gramophone Company in 
Middlesex, that did yeoman service in sustaining the 
Allies' defense. Emile Berliner is essentially a 
man of peace. In the wildest flights of his imagina- 
tion he could never have dreamed that a factory 


built for the production of his talking machine one 
day would be producing, on a twenty-four-hour 
shift, ammunition to be hurled across French battle- 
fields at German troops. 

It has been said in an imaginative figure of 
speech that music won the World War. Music may 
not have decided the fate of Civilization on the shell- 
plowed fields of France, but Song was a mighty fac- 
tor in sustaining that morale mthout which victory 
might not have been achieved. Certain it is that the 
gramophone and the disk record were the unfailing 
companions of the poilu, the '^ Tommy" and the 
doughboy. Often they were all that made life still 
worth living in mud-soaked trench and dripping 
dug-out. Foch's invincibles before Verdun and the 
Marne reeled off Madelon and the Marseillaise on 

*It was the Gramophone Company in Great Britain that made 
world-famous the dog which for more than a quarter of a century 
has been listening to "His Master's Voice." Collier's Weekly, in 
May, 1909, remarked that "the design has become a household word, 
and the quaint little fox terrier at attention before the horn is 
familiar to more Americans than any other of the world's greatest 
masterpieces." From a brother Francis Barraud, an English painter, 
inherited a faithful fox terrier named "Nipper." Man and dog be- 
came fast friends and one day in 1899 it occurred to the artist, an 
early addict to the talking machine, to depict ' ' Nipper ' ' on canvas 
in the terrier's favorite posture in front of the horn. "Nipper" 
was accustomed to listen as intently to the sounds that oozed from 
the horn as any human. Eventually the painting became the posses- 
sion of the Gramophone Company. The original now hangs in a 
special recess over the fireplace in the oak-paneled board room of the 
company's head office in Middlesex. Later Barraud painted many 
copies of the picture, and these now occupy honored positions in 
various gramophone centers throughout the world. 

Emile Berliner, being a painter, in addition to his many other 
artistic accomplishments, realized the gripping appeal and correspond- 
ingly big commercial possibilities of "His Master's Voice" for the 
talking-machine industry. He therefore secured trademark copyrights 
in Barraud 's ' * Nipper. ' ' Eventually the gramophone companies all 
over the world adopted it as their distinctive symbol. 


gramophone records when they were not marching 
into battle with those soul-stirring ballads on their 

Wellington declared that Waterloo was won on 
the playing fields of Eton. Historians may record 
that the British Army's victories in France and 
Belgium between 1914 and 1918 were won by 
the meii who wrote Tipperary, There's a Long, 
Long Trail and Keep the Home Fires Burning, and 
by the men who made it possible for those inspiring 
melodies to be dinned at psychological moments into 
the ears of the men of England, Scotland, Ireland, 
Wales and the "dominions overseas," who bared 
their breasts to the foe at Mons, the Somme and 

How long it would have been before it was 
''over, over there," without George M. Cohan's 
haunting lyric of the American war spirit is a grave 
question. Troops nowadays do not tramp into battle 
behind a brass band. They turn on their talking 
machines while waiting, in soul-trying impatience 
and uncertainty, for the zero hour which sends them 
over the top. In France our men thanked God on 
innumerable occasions for the gramophone and for 
the blessings of song and reminders of home that 
it never failed to bring. To-day, thousands of 
maimed World War soldiers condemned to existence 
in hospitals derive their chief solace from the boons 
with which history will link the name of Emile Ber- 
liner — the talking machine and the microphone, soul 
of radio. 


Berliner's lateral cut disk record, with its possi- 
bility of unlimited duplication, is the seed from 
which the whole modern talking-machine industry 
has sprouted. Since his basic patents ran out in 
1912, all but two companies now manufacturing 
talking machines have used the fundamental prin- 
ciples of the gramophone. The John McCormacks, 
the Galli-Curcis, the Geraldine Farrars, the Louise 
Homers, the Schumann-Heinks, the Jeritzas and all 
the other songbirds, who, through the medium of the 
talking machine, turn our homes into opera-houses, 
long since refused to record for machines of 
non-gramophone type because their form of sound 
grooves distorts the voice. Emile Berliner's pre- 
diction before the Franklin Institute in 1888 that 
the world's great singers some day would receive 
rich royalties from the sale of their records long 
since came true. Their returns from concerts to 
invisible audiences probably far outstrip their ac- 
tual box-office receipts. They have Emile Berliner 
to thank for that. In connection with accounting 
proceedings instituted in the New Jersey courts in 
June, 1926, by Gloria Caruso, six-year-old daughter 
of Enrico Caruso, it was stated that the great 
tenor's ''record" royalties between 1921 and 1925 
amounted to one million dollars. 

The modern commercial success of the gramo- 
phone talking machine, though resting securely 
upon Berliner's invention, is attributable in very 
large degree to the supplementary work of Eldridge 


R, Johnson, now President of the Victor Talking 
Machine Company. An able mechanician of shrewd 
technical perception, Johnson succeeded in develop- 
ing a motor-driven reproducing machine which ran 
with great regularity of speed, was readily adjust- 
able, and, last but not least, ran silently, so as not 
to disturb the sounds of the record by its own noise. 
Such a motor machine had been made by a New York 
clockmaker as far back as 1891, but was not quite 
noiseless. Johnson also took note of the fact that 
the patents of Bell and Tainter covering the method 
of cutting a sound record in wax were approaching 
their final term of legal existence. Deciding to take 
advantage of that circumstance, he applied himself 
to the elimination of the difficult etching process 
and to combining the much easier wax-cutting tech- 
nique of the graphophone with the gramophone 
method of horizontal recording. 

Tho new gramophone, which was evolved, in- 
stantly appealed to grand-opera stars, to the great 
masters of the piano, to the wizards of the violin, 
to symphony orchestras, to artists on every kind 
of musical instrument, and to celebrated actors and 
elocutionists. Its repertoire soon ran the whole 
gamut of audible phenomena. Voice reproductions 
in particular became so startlingly perfect that 
hotels and restaurants found it possible to have 
their orchestras accompany singers as they emerged 
by proxy from the horn of the talking machine. 

Presently there arose a moot question as to 


whether the word "gramophone" could be patented 
as a trade name. In order to forestall any future 
difficulties Mr. Johnson coined the name ''Victor 
Talking Machine" as a trade-mark. 

The creators of the present Victor plant at Cam- 
den, by far the largest talking-machine factory in 
the world, have contrived, in respect of internal 
beauty and atmosphere, almost entirely to divest it 
of the character of an industrial establishment. 
They have breathed into it, instead, a spirit in tune 
with Orpheus and Apollo. Some thirteen thousand 
men and women are employed there in the produc- 
tion of everything that goes into the talking ma- 
chine. In the expansive buildings devoted to the 
making of cabinets there is an omnipresent odor of 
fine woods. Artisans, apparently joyous in their 
jobs, hum music over their work-benches. There is 
visible and audible happiness rampant in the Cam- 
den staff that strikes all \isitors to the plant as 
being in peculiar harmony with the daily task to 
which it is devoting itself — the mass production of 
instruments of melody. 

Earlier in this narrative are some facts and 
figures that tell the story of the physical growth of 
the telephone. No less impressive are a few graphic 
details that reveal the present magnitude of the 
talking-machine industry. 

The pressure required to press a twelve-inch 
record is two hundred and fifty-four thousand two 
hundred and fifty pounds — the equivalent of pres- 


sure at the bottom of a column of east iron twelve 
inches in diameter and approximately as high as the 
Woolworth Building. It would take a string of 
freight cars twenty-six and three-quarter miles long 
to haul the Victor yearly output. At the Camden 
plant six hundred and thirty-seven thousand square 
feet of blue-print paper are used in one year — 
enough to make a single print over an eighth of a 
mile square. Each day, for cooling presses, two mil- 
lion seven hundred thousand gallons of water are 
pumped, enough to fill a two-foot diameter pipe 
twenty-two miles long. Daily one hundred and eighty 
tons of coal are burned. They would last the average 
home-owner twenty-five years. If the present floor 
areas of the vast talking-machine plant on the Dela- 
ware were laid out in a building one hundred feet 
wide (one story high), the building would be three 
and six-tenths miles long. Between May and October, 
1923, sufficient lumber was cut up at Camden to 
build six hundred two-story houses, each twenty- 
eight feet square, and enough packing material was 
used to make a two-car garage for each of them. 
The monthly production of records piled flat would 
make a column four miles high — twice as high as the 
F5 sea-plane can fly and fifty per cent, higher than 
Mount Whitney, the loftiest peak in the United 
States. Edge to edge, the same records would reach 
five hundred and twenty miles, or the distance from 
Camden to Cincinnati. It would take nineteen years* 
continuous gramophone playing to play them I 


Two institutions of world-wide fame — the Li- 
brary of Congress at Washington and the Grand 
Opera in Paris — have given substance to an early 
prophecy of Emile Berliner. He said that one of 
the missions of the gramophone record was to per- 
petuate, for eternity, the voices of celebrities, or 
voices near and dear to particular persons. In 1925 
the Congressional Library decided to install a com- 
prehensive collection of talking-machine records. 
As an addition to the music division of the Library, 
the collection is intended to give students of music 
an opportunity to hear the works of the great com- 
posers, as performed by master artists, instead of 
merely tracing them mentally from books and notes. 
The collection contains a large number of records 
made by artists now passed from the scene and is 
the first seriously conceived public aggregation of 
its kind in America. 

Herbert Putnam, the Librarian of Congress, said : 
*'The records add greatly to the resources of our 
music division and to the Library's auditorium for 
chamber concerts, and aid in giving pleasure and in- 
struction to a highly significant public." Carl 
Engel, Chief of the Music Division, added: '*I have 
been moved especially by the thought of the coming 
generations. To them this extension of the resources 
of the music division — adding to the printed record 
of a composition the record of its sound in per- 
formance — will be invaluable. With my pleasure 
and satisfaction there mingles only the regret that 


this wonderful invention was not made three hun- 
dred years ago." 

Some time before the Library of Congress ar- 
ranged to install its record collection, the Paris 
Opera placed in hermetically sealed vaults an as- 
sortment of records which are not to be touched for 
fifty or a hundred years, and then only for compari- 
son with records made by artists still to come. Down 
in the catacomb-like fire-proof storerooms built by 
the big talking-machine companies here and in 
Europe, and securely barred to all but a few trusted 
employees, are stored away hundreds upon hun- 
dreds of copper and steel matrices, the indestruc- 
tible and precious legacies which the masters of song 
and performance have bequeathed to future genera- 
tions. Their immortality is secure. 

In a paper on the Bell-Tainter graphophone, 
read by Henry Edmunds before the British Associa- 
tion for the Advancement of Science at Bath on 
September 7, 1888, there is a story of a young 
Chinese diplomat at Washington. On seeing the 
Bell-Tainter graphophone for the first time, he re- 
called a famous legend in China about a fair woman 
whose voice was so beautiful that her children 
longed to preserve it for future generations to hear. 
So they persuaded her to speak into a bamboo cane 
which was carefully sealed. The cane was sacredly 
cherished for several generations and then, one day, 
was opened. Each word came out in order and with 
all the original sweetness. But the voice was never 
heard again. It had vanished for all time. 


What filial piety once in far Cathay quaintly es- 
sayed to achieve by magic has become a practical 
possibility in our day because of what Emile Ber- 
liner wrought. He made it possible for posterity to 
hold communion with the immortals.* Enrico Caruso 
no longer bestrides the boards of the Metropolitan 
Opera, but his majestic song is with us yet. Mankind 
has realized at last Tennyson's msh for 'Hhe voice 
that is still." 

*A certain Colonel Joyce^ speaking into the graphophone at 
Washington in July, 1888, recited the following verse of his own 
composition in tribute to Berliner 's invention : 

"I treasure the voices of poets and sages, 

I keep them alive through the round rolling years; 
I speak to the world for ages and ages, 

Eecording the language of smiles and of tears. 

"When friends have departed, and sweet life has ended, 

Their voices shall sound through my swift rolling heart; 
While all of their love-notes are treasured and blended, 
As faithful and true as the nature of art. 

"The pulpit, the bar, the wants of the household. 

Shall photograph thought in the sigh of my soul ; 
The man and the maid shall advance more than tenfold, 
Who talk with my tongue as the years grandly roll. 

"The Godhead alone shall be found in my preaching^ 
And marvelous secrets I yet shall disclose. 
The schools of the world shall list to my teaching, 
As pure and as bright as the blush of the rose. 

"I war with the world where ignorance slumbers, 
And go hand in hand with the light of the sua. 
I count every thought with quick magical numbers; 
And my work on the earth shall never be done.'' 


Berliner's contribution to public health 

IN THE prefatory words by Herbert Hoover, 
statesman and humanitarian, with which this 
story of inventive genius begins, it is set forth that 
Emile Berliner ''has crowned his material success 
by the capstone of a wise and notable philanthropy. ' ' 

In the realm of human beneficence, Berliner, 
serenely across the threshold of his seventy-fifth 
year, is still active. As he is a fundamentalist in all 
things, it is to the cause of child health, which is 
the foundation of citizenship and national welfare, 
that the inventor of the microphone and the gramo- 
phone has devoted himself. He has done so not as 
a theorist, but as a practical idealist. As the years 
have failed to wither the infinite variety of his scien- 
tific activities, neither have they staled his zeal in 
humanitarian works, for it is more than a quarter of 
a century since he first enlisted in the war against 
infant mortality. 

During the interval he has become one of its 
recognized field-marshals. The death rate among 
babies in the District of Columbia, when Berliner 
took up arms against it, was so appalling that, in 



the words of a distinguished Washington professor 
of hygiene, Doctor George M. Kober, hot weather 
saw them ''die like flies." Li the late 'nineties, 
nearly three hundred children out of every thousand 
born in Washington perished before the completion 
of their first year, principally from gastro-intestinal 
troubles, or an average of approximately thirty per 
cent. During the fiscal year ended June 30, 1925, 
out of nine thousand, two hundred and seventy- 
seven babies born in the District of Columbia, only 
one hundred and thirteen died from intestinal com- 
plaints, or an average of less than one and one- 
fourth per cent. Authorities like Doctor Kober, 
now the honored dean of Georgetown University 
medical faculty, give Emile Berliner's "clear in- 
sight" in the field of popular health education 
unqualified credit for the progress which Washing- 
ton's vital statistics denote. 

It was an attack of gastro-intestinal illness which 
overtook one of his own offspring, a daughter Alice, 
in 1900, that impelled Berliner to clear for action 
against prevailing methods of combatting child dis- 
ease. More than half a dozen skilled physicians did 
their utmost to save the baby girl. But the days and 
weeks passed without bringing improvement. When 
Alice was six months old, she weighed a pound less 
than at birth. Only her native vitality, supplemented 
by starvation rations, kept her alive through a par- 
ticularly hot Washington summer. At eight months, 
Alice was still a puny infant of eight and one-half 


pounds. But meantime Berliner, his scientific fight- 
ing instinct aroused, had given intensive study to a 
branch that was utterly virgin soil to him — child 
nutrition. With Mrs. Berliner's hearty approval, 
he took personal charge of Alice's case and person- 
ally prescribed and prepared every ounce and swal- 
low of the tot's food. 

Slowly, but steadily, then swiftly, the baby 
gained in weight and vigor. By the time of her first 
birthday anniversary, Alice was plump, rosy and of 
normal weight, tipping the scales at twenty-two and 
one-half pounds. Breaking new paths, as was his 
wont in the field of electro-magnetics and acoustics, 
Berliner had won his first skirmish in a campaign 
for child health that was to eventuate in a life-time 
crusade. To-day the Alice Berliner of those anxious 
years is a beautiful and healthy young woman, hap- 
pily married to the young economist, Isadore Lubin, 
of the Institute of Economics at "Washington, whose 
keen analysis of the British coal crisis of 1926 at- 
tracted wide-spread attention throughout the United 

Forthwith Berliner determined to dedicate him- 
self to the promotion of public health and the eradi- 
cation of preventable disease. The ravages of infant 
mortality were, in 1900, not quite so terrifying as 
when Doctor Dickson, of England, in 1851, fran- 
tically asked: ''How shall we prevent the early 
extinction of half the new-born children of men?" 
Yet, twenty-seven years later, in 1878, out of every 


thousand babies born in Washington, three hundred 
and twenty-two died before they were a year old. 
Mothers dreaded ''the second summer" of their 
babies' lives as they feared the plague. In 1895 the 
infant death-rate in the national capital was still 
two hundred and ninety-seven and two-tenths per 
thousand. Fully forty per cent, of the mortality 
was due to gastro-intestinal complaints, and two and 
one-half per cent, to primary tuberculosis of the 
intestinal lymphatics. 

These tell-tale figures caused Emile Berliner, on 
the basis of his owti researches, strongly to suspect 
that the morbific agent in intestinal and tubercular 
cases was introduced into the human body with its 
food. In addition to the lamentable losses of child 
life directly attributable to impure or contaminated 
milk, there were recorded by Doctor Kober in 1895, 
throughout the world, one hundred and thirty-five 
epidemics of tj^hoid ; seventy-four of scarlet fever ; 
twenty-eight of diphtheria and several outbreaks of 
septic sore throat, all traceable to infected milk. The 
majority of epidemics occurred in countries where 
almost exclusively raw milk is consumed. 

Berliner's course was now charted. It lay 
straight across the sea of dangers that lurk in raw 
milk. He was among the first to realize the vast 
importance of the fact that milk can be rendered 
safe by heating and by killing any disease germs 
secreted in it. The process, known to the world as 
pasteurization, was, when Berliner and other scien- 


tists first advocated it, opposed by the American 
Pediatric Society on the ground that children could 
not thrive on heated milk, but on the contrary con- 
tracted scurvy and rickets from such nutrition. For 
many years the general medical profession upheld 
that theory. 

How to combat the always influential voice of the 
medical world became a problem, but Berliner, the 
irrepressible pioneer, found the way. Convinced in 
his own mind of the correctness of the principles 
enunciated by a few sanitarians, he decided upon a 
"Wake Up, Mothers!" campaign of wholly original 
conception. In the spring of 1901, Berliner, in col- 
laboration with a few sympathizing friends, formed 
in "Washington under the expressive title of ''The 
Society for the Prevention of Sickness" an organ- 
ization to be devoted, in the first instance, merely; 
to the spreading of knowledge. 

For that purpose Berliner engaged, at his own 
expense, advertising space in the Sunday news- 
papers of Washington and filled it, week after week, 
with what he called health bulletins. The first one 
was published in the Washington Post of June 15, 
1901, and read as follows: 

MILK is notoriously one of the best soils 
for the germination and multiplication of dis- 
ease germs. 

MANY EPIDEMICS of Typhoid, Malaria 
and Scarlet Fever have been traced to infected 
milk, not to speak of Tuberculosis from the 
same source. 


INSPECTION is rarely thorough and does 
not prevent contamination of the milk supply. 

SCALDING (or sterilizing) will destroy 
most of the virulent germs, if not all. 

SOME PEOPLE say that you should not 
scald milk for fear of making it less easy to di- 
gest. This is a very small matter compared 
with infection. The advice is, besides, un- 
founded, and should be disregarded. 

ROBUST PEOPLE may with impunity dis- 
regard rules of precaution, which are necessary 
with weaker constitutions and children. 




The term "pasteurization" did not appear in 
this bulletin. Instead, ''scalding" was recom- 
mended, and in the use of that word Berliner had the 
approval of the late Professor Jacques Loeb, after- 
ward head of the division of general physiology at 
the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. Ber- 
liner's bulletins were intended to instruct the com- 
mon people, the housewives and the cooks, who could 
not be expected to understand scientific expressions. 
The word "scalding" was utilized as meaning the 
use of heat without actual boiling. Boiling might 
make milk less digestible for infants with weak 
stomachs, according to the false notion then existing. 

It would be interesting for modern milk sani- 
tarians to look through Berliner 's pioneer collection 
of milk bulletins. They were changed every week. 
Many authorities were cited. The whole field of 


milk dangers was spread before the public. Every 
bulletin ended with the slogan: '* Scald the milk, and 
keep it cool and covered afterward," and accentu- 
ated the fact that inspection alone was insufficient. 

This method of instructing the public was so un- 
usual that soon after Berliner began launching the 
bulletins, the Marine Hospital vService of the United 
States Government asked the Health Officer of the 
District of Columbia whom the Society for Preven- 
tion of Sickness ''represented." An adequate an- 
swer was promptly sent by Berliner. 

The bulletins evidently impressed the health 
authorities of the District of Columbia as early as 
1903, because a newspaper clipping of July four- 
teenth of that year mentions that the Milk Dealers' 
and Producers' Associations of Maryland, Virginia 
and the District of Columbia were up in arms 
against Doctor Woodward, the health officer, irri- 
tated at what they termed "his unjust persecution 
of their members." Two days afterward an edi- 
torial in the Washington Times, headed ''The Milk 
Problem," dealt with the question, insisting that 
milk dealers must supply pure milk in order to re- 
duce infant mortality. 

Berliner continued the milk bulletins in spite of 
the stubborn opposition of many physicians to the 
use of heat as an immunizer of milk — an opposition 
which to some extent persists to the present day. 

In addition to stigmatizing impure milk, the 
bulletins of the Society for the Prevention of Sick- 


ness pointed out the clangers in ice-cream, butter 
and dairy products made from non-pasteurized 
cream and milk. This voluntary, popularized prop- 
aganda, systematically and efficiently conducted 
under Berliner's personal direction, supplied the 
people of the National Capital with a liberal educa- 
tion in the science of health. Its ramifications prob- 
ably were nation-wide. What Washington thinks 
and does to-day, the country frequently thinks and 
does to-morrow, because its representatives in Con- 
gress and the great government departments are 
habitually relaying to the outer United States that 
which, from time to time, is noteworthy in the Dis- 
trict of Columbia. 

Certainly no phase of life at Washington was 
literally more vital in its beneficent results than 
Berliner's health crusade. When he embarked upon 
it, infant mortality at Washington was still two hun- 
dred and seventy-four and five-tenths out of every 
thousand children born. Not a quart of milk sold in 
the District of Columbia was pasteurized. In 1914, 
according to Doctor Woodward, the District health 
officer, half of the bottled milk sold in Washing- 
ton was pasteurized. In 1924, according to Doctor 
Fowler, then health officer, ninetj^-seven per cent, of 
the milk marketed was pasteurized. There was no 
law compelling what Berliner used to call "the scald- 
ing of milk, ' ' but the public having been educated to 
demand it, pasteurization automatically came about. 

In 1924 infant mortality had fallen to seventy- 


five and seven-tenths per thousand. Typhoid fever 
was reduced from seventy-two fatalities per one 
hundred thousand of population in 1900 to between 
four and five per one hundred thousand in 1924. 
Pulmonary consumption in the same period fell 
from four hundred and ninety-two deaths among 
the colored population to two hundred and thirty- 
eight, and, among the whites, from one hundred and 
eighty-three to sixty-two. In 1925 white mortality 
was as low as fifty. 

''This is indeed a field of glory,'* exclaimed one 
of the reviewers of Emile Berliner's health work 
at the meeting of the Association for the Prevention 
of Tuberculosis, held in honor of his seventy-fifth 
birthday anniversary in 1926. "But for him, scien- 
tific facts might have remained unnoticed for a long 

A decided step forward in the movement for safe 
milk was taken in the year 1907, when the Committee 
on Tuberculosis of the Associated Charities, of 
which Brigadier-General George M. Sternberg, 
former Surgeon-General of the United States Army, 
was chairman, created a Milk Committee and made 
Emile Berliner its chairman. The other members of 
the committee were Doctor E. C. Schroeder and 
Doctor AVilliam H. Dexter of the Bureau of Animal 
Industry; Doctor D. E. Buckingham, the veter- 
inarian, and Wallace Hatch, secretary of the Associ- 
ated Charities. 

*From parchment testimonial presented to Emile Berliner on 
May 20, 1926. 

Pkuf. IIekmanx Ludwig Fer- 
dinand VON Helmholtz. Died 
AT Berlin, Germany, Sept. 8, 

Dr. Ernest C. Schroeder, 
Biologist, Director U. JS. 
Animal Experiment Station, 
Bethesda, Md., Whose 
Friendship and Cooperation 
Mr. Berliner Enjoyed for 
Many Years 

Heinrich Hertz 07 Germany, 
Who Was the First to Dem- 
onstrate That When an 
Electric Spark Jumps 
through the Air it Causes 
Electric Waves, Etc. Elec- 
tric Waves Travel at the 
Eate of 183.000 Miles Per 
Second. This Discovery 

Made Eadio Messages Pos- 

Hon. Herbert C. Hoover 

'H i >V- i ^l i 

~\ V! »>-^ ^i T^, ■'?<. 

^oS " N^o,: 


y ^ 


^\^^ I 4 1^^ 



1-. -^ 

i Mil. K >^4 ^ a -^ 4.. 

N?"" J M .^" V -^ -^ i ^ nJ J 

1 '"^^ '^ .i 

O ~ i _'5, VI ^ 

V '^ 


V i 


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* i 



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At the first conferences of tlie milk committee at 
Berliner's home, milk problems were discussed at 
length. Doctor Schroeder made known to the com- 
mittee his recent discovery that the feces of tubercu- 
lous cows are often heavily charged with virulent 
tubercle bacilli, and pointed out that the examina- 
tion of numerous samples of market milk disclosed 
that very little milk entirely free from contamina- 
tion with cow feces reaches the consumer. Hence, 
according to Doctor Schroeder, the presence of a 
single tuberculous cow in a dairy herd had to be re- 
garded as a danger through which any portion or all 
of the milk from the herd might become infected 
with tubercle bacilli. 

Berliner was so impressed with the importance 
of the Schroeder discovery that he proposed that his 
committee should request the Associated Charities 
to call a general conference on milk problems, of 
sufficient scope to include representatives of the Dis- 
trict of Columbia Health Office and the several 
bureaus of the Federal Government which have pub- 
lic-health functions. The suggestion was accepted 
by the committee and conmiunicated to General 
Sternberg, who endorsed it. 

On March 30, 1907, the call of the Commissioners 
of the District of Columbia for a milk conference 
was issued. The men invited to participate com- 
prised most of the prominent authorities on sanita- 
tion that could be assembled from among Washing- 
ton scientists and from the bureaus of the National 


Government. Besides these, members of the differ- 
ent milk associations were invited. The Bar 
Association, the Veterinary Association, the "Wash- 
ington Academy of Sciences and the Chemical 
Society of Washington also were represented. 

The result of the conference was the adoption of 
milk standards formulated by Doctor A. D. Melvin, 
of the Department of Agriculture, whereupon the 
cause of pasteurization received the strong endorse- 
ment of the Federal Government. This development 
compelled the American Pediatric Society to assume 
the defensive. As an immediate consequence, the 
health department of the City of New York called a 
milk conference in 1909, and then and there adopted 
milk standards similar to those previously endorsed 
in Washington.* To this New York conference its 
organizers specially invited Doctor E. C. Schroeder, 
Doctor G. L. Magruder and Emile Berliner, and 
they made their influence felt in the proceedings 
which culminated in unqualified approval of pas- 

Ultimately the proceedings and reports of the 
Washington conference were published by the De- 
partment of Agriculture as Circular 114. Copies of 
it can be found in the files of health bureaus and 
associations the world over. When Professor von 
Pirquet, the renowned child-hygienist of the Univer- 

*Natlian Straus, who in 1892 originated, and has since main- 
tained, a system of distribution of pasteurized milk to the poor of 
New York City, for years combatted the opposition of the Pediatric 

Society and of medical men who refused to recognize the manifest 

results that flowed from sterilized milk. 


sity of Vienna, visited Washington, Berliner was 
told that his gospel of safe milk for healthy infants 
had spread to Europe and was universally ac- 
claimed. The work of the Washington milk con- 
ference became eventually the foundation of 
municipal and state dairy laws in many parts of the 
country, and references to its importance can be 
found in transatlantic publications, notably in Eng- 
land, where it received high praise. 

Stimulated by the constructive achievements of 
the Washington milk conference, the Society for 
Prevention of Sickness prosecuted its campaign 
with increased vigor. The Society, at Berliner's in- 
stigation, initiated various other reforms connected 
with the milk supply. He attacked Washington 
hospitals because they furnished indiscriminate raw 
milk to their patients. He criticized in particular 
certain children's hospitals because several of their 
leading doctors continued to oppose pasteurization. 

As early in his warfare on impure milk as 1907 
Berliner had pointed out, in a prepared paper, what 
he called ''Some Neglected Essentials in the Fight 
Against Consumption. ' ' In the closing paragraphs, 
he said: 

"Let me suggest to those humanitarians who 
labor in the cause of the prevention of consumption 
that no agitation is as efficient as that begun in the 
Public Schools. If modern text-books could be in- 
troduced, dealing not only with the causes and pre- 
vention of consumption, but w^th prophylaxis in 
general, it would plant the seed of knowledge where 
it would bear the richest fruit. 


**But such text-books would only half fulfill their 
mission, or indeed entirely fail in it, if undue prom- 
inence were bestowed on the hunting and destroying 
of the tubercle bacilli and too little stress placed 
upon the more important essentials for the fortify- 
ing of the human body, thereby maintaining and 
increasing its natural power of resistance to all 
diseases, including consumption." 

That was the first time that health education 
through the schools was ever publicly emphasized. 
Within a few years the Tuberculosis Association at 
Washington, of which Berliner was for seven years 
the president, inaugurated its literary campaign on 
the lines proposed by him and under his leader- 
ship. Three years later, in 1910, the Berliner com- 
mittee began the distribution of twenty-five thousand 
copies of the Twelve Rules for Health adopted by 
the Association. They were printed in words of one 
syllable on card-board in two colors for display in 
the Washington public schools from the fourth 
grade up. Teachers would explain, and comment 
upon, the rules; children would take copies home, 
and the advice to parents, printed on the envelope, 
to tack up or frame the rules in the house was gen- 
erally followed. The Tuberculosis Association also 
authorized the publication of a book entitled 
Washington Health Rules. Copies were distributed 
among school-teachers and, to this day, are pre- 
sented to all graduates of District of Columbia 
normal schools. 

In 1919, in order to teach the young idea as early 


in life as possible to shoot straight in the direction 
of health, Berliner conceived the quaint notion of 
turning his Rules for Health into simple nursery 
rhymes and illustrating them in colors for the use 
of third-grade pupils. Children were encouraged by 
their teachers to memorize the rhymes. Here is one 
of his lyrics, entitled TJie Gentle Cow: 

*'When milk is raw just from the farm 
It's full of germs which may do harm; 
But safe it is and highly prized 
When it is boiled or pasteurized 
Ice-cream, cheese and butter-fat 
Come from milk — you all know that. 
Made from raw milk, we can see 
They might harm both you and me." 

As an incentive to schools and school children to 
take part in the crusade for public health, Berliner 
in 1920 endowed a Silver Trophy Cup, to be awarded 
annually by the National Tuberculosis Association 
to the city showing the largest proportionate enroll- 
ment of pupils engaged in the health crusade. Ber- 
liner is a director of the National Association. In 
1921 his cup was won by the public schools of Wash- 
inton, D. C, and presented by President Harding. 
Last year Berliner endowed a similar trophy to be 
awarded in the Dominion of Canada. 

In 1921 Berliner resorted to a new and far- 
reaching departure in his child health work. With 
the professional cooperation of Doctor Alfred J. 
Steinberg, of Washington, a graduate of Harvard 


Medical School and a children's specialist, Berliner 
wrote and published The Bottle-Fed Baby* Its 
purpose was to infonn the young mother in prac- 
tical, concise terms exactly how a bottle-fed baby 
should be reared. 

Berhner's plan was to place a free copy in the 
hands of every new mother in the District of Colum- 
bia, rich or poor, for within its pages were packed 
more useful facts and figures than ever before were 
issued in manuals of maternity information five or 
six times the size. The District health authorities 
readily acceded to Berliner's wish to be placed reg- 
ularly and promptly in possession of names and ad- 
dresses of newly-reported mothers. To this writing, 
midsummer, 1926, and within a period of five years, 
more than fifty thousand copies of The Bottle-Fed 
Baby have been distributed. Berliner still super- 
intends personally its circulation to new mothers as 
fast as their names are supplied him. 

This Silver Jubilee of humanitarian work and 
Diamond Jubilee of Emile Berliner's life find Ber- 
liner waging the never-ending war for public hy- 

•Professor Ealph V. Magoffin, president of the Archeological 
lastitute of America and head of the department of charities of New 
Tork University, brought back from Egypt in June, 1926, a black 
stone nursing bottle ■which did service in the land of the Pharaohs in 
1200 B. C. As proof of the utensil's use for the rearing of Egj'ptian 
infants three thousand one hundred and twenty-six years ago. Pro- 
fessor Magoffin pointed out that the bottle is heavily constructed at 
the bottom to prevent tipping and has square sides to avoid rolling. 
The top is very much like that of nursing bottles of the present age. 
The American archeologist considers the Eg;v7jtion nursing bottle 
Bcientifically superior to its modem type. Emile Berliner's comment 
on Professor Magoffin's discovery waB "There's nothing new under 
the sun. " 


giene from a three-story building which he erected 
and dedicated to its exclusive purposes in 1924. 
It is what military men might call a General Head- 
quarters for Child Health. A modest sign informs 
the passer-by in Columbia Eoad — less than a stone's 
throw from the site of the rambling old home where 
Berliner made his earliest gramophone experi- 
ments — that within is the ''Bureau of Health Edu- 
cation." One of its features is a class-room where 
yomig mothers with their children come regularly 
for education, by chart, picture and blackboard. In 
1909 Berliner erected an infirmary building at the 
Starmont Tuberculosis Sanitarium near Washing- 
ton in memory of his own father. 

Restless in the achievement of constructive 
works for public health, Emile Berliner in 1925, ^^'ith 
the assistance of Mrs. E. E. Grant, a member of his 
Committee on Publications, secured the passage by 
Congress of a modern milk law for the District of 
Columbia, which was drafted by Doctor W. C. 
Fowler, health officer of the Federal area. Mrs. 
Grant succeeded in enlisting the interest of Mrs. 
Calvin Coolidge, an ideal mother, who herself had 
only a little while before suffered the loss of her 
second-born. Since the passage of the law, the milk 
supply in the District of Columbia, much of which 
had been of low sanitary rating, has been of uni- 
formly high standard. 

Had Emile Berliner never touched the telephone 
or the talking machine, his health work should make 


secure his claim to the gratitude of his era and of 
eras to come. The tears it has saved, the mother 
hearts it has spared from anguish, can never be 
recorded in the vital statistics. But that he has 
made child life sweeter, surer and safer is estab- 
lished beyond all peradventure.* 

^Berliner's published coutributions to the literature of the con- 
servation of child life include: 

Some Neglected Essentials in the Fight against Consumption; 
Sccent Developments in Infant Feeding ; History of the Society for 
the Frevention of SicJcness; The Tuberculin Test as a Factor in the 
Milk Traffic; The Outbreak of Typhoid Fever i?i Cassel in 1909; 
Opening Address "before a Congressional Sub-Committee on Milk 
Legislation for the District of Columbia; Hospital Milk; High. Ty- 
phoid Mortality in Tj^asliington Hospitals and Their Milk Supply; 
The Literary Health Propaganda of the Washington Tuberculosis 
Association; What Constitutes Municipal Responsibility; How a 
Love Kiss May ie a Death Kiss; Twelve Health Rhymes (used reg- 
ularly in Washington schools) ; Are Annual Winter Epidemics Caused 
by Infected Butter: 



WHILE this biography was in the making, a 
letter arrived at the Post-Office in Washing- 
ton, post-marked Battle Creek, Michigan, and ad- 
dressed as follows: 

To the Inventor of the Microphone, 
Washington, D. C. 

In due course, it was delivered at No. 2400 Six- 
teenth Street, N. W., the residence of Emile Ber- 
liner. The omniscient postal authorities of the 
capital city knew more about the origin of radio 
than the average American, to whom, no doubt, it 
"udll come with surprise to learn that, but for Emile 
Berliner's trail-blazing, the miracle of broadcast- 
ing — any more than the telephone — would hardly be 
what it is to-day. 

In the perfection of that eighth wonder of the 
world Berliner played a fundamental role. Without 
the Berliner microphone, "the crowning achieve- 
ment of the spirit of invention," as radio was re- 
cently eulogized, might still be a voice screeching 



through the static wilderness instead of having 
become the oracle of the universe. 

The "mike," as the broadcasting fraternity has 
affectionately dubbed the microphone, is but one 
part of the heritage bequeathed to radio by tele- 
phony. Berliner invented and patented it for use 
in the ordinary telephone, where it soon became 
known, as it is to-day, as the transmitter. Tech- 
nically, the microphone and the transmitter are 
identical. The ''mike's" history and development, 
like that of the receiver, the amplifier and the 
vacuum tube, involved long and painstaking re- 
search before it was converted into the perfect 
instrument through which sound now spans the 
Atlantic and reverberates from end to end of the 
North American continent, not excepting even the 
frozen reaches of the Arctic. 

Curious as it may seem, the highly efficient 
microphone used in broadcasting was developed 
long before its present use was anticipated. It was 
first utilized as a laboratory instrument in connec- 
tion with researches conducted mth transmitted 
speech. Speech, of course, is the product with which 
telephone engineers are most concerned. They ex- 
periment with it much as the chemist treats chemi- 
cal compounds. It may be analyzed into its elements 
and each element studied by itself in order better to 
understand the conditions and requirements which 
telephone circuits must meet. In this ''speech 
chemistry," it is necessarj- that the experimental 


transmitter produce exact electrical copies of the 
speech to be studied ; therefore, a good transmitter 
is an all-essential feature. When broadcasting 
began, this "high quality" microphone was ready 
for the new role. 

To be capable of perfect reproduction the micro- 
phone must respond to high pitched tones and low 
pitched tones equally. If any of the tones are either 
over-emphasized or under-emphasized, an unnat- 
uralness results. This is usually known as "distor- 
tion." Microphones are now built which respond 
vdth great fidelity to all of the frequencies between 
fifty and five thousand vibrations per second. 

Naturally, because of the very severe require- 
ments which it must meet, the broadcasting micro- 
phone is constructed somewhat differently from the 
telephone transmitter. It consists of an "air- 
damped" diaphragm on each side of which is located 
a cup of carbon granules. The result is that during 
operation the granules in one cup are compressed 
and possess a low resistance, while those in the other 
are released and possess a high resistance. Be- 
cause of this double feature, the microphone is 
sometimes referred to as the "push-pull" tj'pe. The 
air damping supplies a very thin air cushion (about 
one one-thousandth of an inch thick) which tends to 
minimize any resonant effects that might otherwise 
be present, due to the springiness of the diaphragm. 

Not only must the microphone respond to a wide 
range of frequencies faithfully, but it must repro- 


duce a wide range of intensities. The same micro- 
phone that reproduces the grand crescendo of a 
whole orchestra may a moment later be required to 
reproduce the most delicate strains of a violin, 
which may scarcely be audible even to those in the 
same room. Indeed, the power represented by such 
sounds is barely a millionth of a watt, and the re- 
sulting motion of the diaphragm is too small to be 
detected. Experiments to develop the microphone 
were carried out in the Bell System's extensive 
laboratories which date back to the early Bell Com- 
pany 's experimental department started by Berliner 
and Watson in 1879. 

All this explains why various means have to be 
used to encourage a speaker or singer to stand at the 
proper distance from the microphone — about four 
feet. Experience has shown that if a small rug is 
placed in front of the microphone pedestal, a speak- 
er will unconsciously tend to confine himself to that 
region. Others do not feel oratorically at home un- 
less they can walk around while talking, in which 
case provisions for long-distance speaking must be 
made. Temperamental radio performers accus- 
tomed to the bare floor of the stage have refused to 
sing while standing on plush carpet! In one in- 
stance, the program was delayed until boards could 
be brought in. 

In 1873, James Clerk Maxwell, a profound Eng- 
lish mathematician and apostle of Michael Faraday, 
published his classic Electricity and Magnetism, in 


which he boldly proclaimed the theory that electric 
waves could be reflected and refracted like light. 
He maintained that if the electrical wave motion 
with which Faraday experimented could be meas- 
ured it, too, would be found to travel at the speed of 
one hundred and eighty-six thousand miles a second. 
The first man to demonstrate the correctness of 
Maxwell's theory, and to show that electric waves 
navigate the ether in the same manner as light 
waves, was Heinrich Hertz, a humble German pro- 
fessor at Bonn University. Hertz created in his 
laboratory electric sparks, or little flashes of artifi- 
cial lightning. With their aid, he established that 
electric sparks cause electric waves in the ether pre- 
cisely as sound causes acoustic waves in the air. 

''Hertzian waves," as the astounded electrical 
world forthwith and thenceforward called the Bonn 
physicist's discovery, riveted scientists' attention in 
many lands. Branly, in France ; Lodge, in England, 
and Popoff, in Russia, contributed substantially, by 
experiment and research, to the knowledge of 
''Hertzian waves." But to none of them did it occur 
that waves in the ether might be impressed into 
service for transmitting messages over immense 
distances. Years after radio communication was an 
accomplished fact. Sir Oliver Lodge wrote that he 
"did not realize that there would be a practical ad- 
vantage in . . . telegraphing across space. . . . 
In this non-perception of the practical uses of wire- 
less telegraphy, I undoubtedly erred.'* 


It was reserved for William Marconi, twenty- 
two-3^ear-old son of an Italian father and an Irish 
mother, to patent in 1896 a system of utilizing Hert- 
zian waves for telegraphing through the air with the 
Morse key. ''At the receiving station," writes 
Waldemar Kaempffert (A Popular Bistort/ of 
American Invention), "was the equally familiar re- 
ceiving apparatus, in which a detector (the Branly- 
Lodge form of 'eye') was included. The Morse key 
was depressed. Sparks passed. They sent out 
waves into the ether. The key was released. The 
sparks and the waves ceased. Thus long or short 
trains of waves were sent out, corresponding with 
the dashes and dots of the Morse code. The receiver 
responded sympathetically. The eye or detector 
'saw' while the key was down. It 'saw' nothing 
when the key was up. It received invisible telegraph 

Thus was radio horn. 

By the end of 1897 Marconi was acclaimed the 
world round for the incredible feat of signaling nine 
or ten miles. "Half a mile was the mldest dream,'* 
said Sir William Preece, of the British Post-Office 
Department, when conmienting upon the expecta- 
tions of Marconi's more optimistic devotees. 

Radio broadcasting, which is just another name 
for telephoning without wires, may be explained as 
follows : 

If we throw a stone into a placid sheet of water, 
a series of ring-shaped waves is produced on the 


surface, stretching out in all directions until finally 
they become lost in the distance. An analogous 
action takes place when an electric spark rushes 
through the air. Forthmth electric waves radiate 
from the spark in all directions at a speed of about 
one hundred and eighty-six thousand miles a second. 
There exist to-day other and more effective 
means in electrical science for producing thousands 
of these electric impulses in quick succession, so 
that we can produce such a stream of ether waves 
as to amount practically to a continuous ether wave 
current. If such a current, which may be called a 
** carrying current," is passed through one coil of a 
transformer before being thrown out into space at 
the broadcasting antenna, and then a speech wave 
current, produced by a microphone, is passed 
through the other coil of the same transformer, the 
electric speech vibrations will be impressed by in- 
duction, or electric influence, upon the carrjdng 
current. Then they mil be taken along by the carry- 
ing current into space, to be picked up by the thou- 
sands of smaller antenna of the listeners-in with 
recei\dng apparatus. Thus, it is seen that the micro- 
phone is the means by which all sound to be broad- 
cast is sent, and that the transformer is the 
apparatus which unites with that sound the energy 
by which that sound is carried an unlimited distance. 
Both of these inventions, the microphone and the 
continuous current transformer used in radio broad- 
casting, ivere made hi/ Emile Berliner in 1877. 


It is plain from this simplified explanation that 
in broadcasting, the speech current passes through 
the ether in all directions and practically fills the 
ether of the whole world. It can be caught up any- 
where by receiving antenna, but before the now 
greatly enfeebled speech current can be made au- 
dible in the telephone receiver it has to be reinforced 
or amplified. This is accomplished by the well- 
known modern vacuum tube, or amplifier tube, in- 
vented by Lee De Forest, without which it would be 
practically impossible to listen to broadcasting over 
any great distance. De Forest's invention is one of 
the truly remarkable contributions to electricity and 
one of the greatest inventions of all time. 

''Wired wireless" is the term applied where 
broadcast matter is sent part of the way over a long- 
distance telephone wire, to be tapped at any inter- 
mediate station and then sent or relayed through 
the ether. Wired wireless is the invention of Major- 
General George Owen Squier, U. S. A., retired, 
a friend and neighbor of Emile Berliner at Wash- 
ington. For a number of years radio was beset with 
various exasperating difficulties. Broadcasting was 
largely confined to the winter season. It suffered 
from the now celebrated ''static" and frequently 
from a sudden "fading out" of the voice or other 
broadcast sounds. It also was much more efficient 
at night than during daylight. 

These and other atmospheric disorders were re- 
moved by "wired wireless." In General Squier 's 


system tlie radio waves are guided along telegraph, 
telephone, or even electric light mres, and are not 
affected by ether disturbances in space. Arrived at 
a station, the reproductions are from there broad- 
cast (relayed) for lesser distances over allotted 
ether wave lengths. ''Wired wireless" has lifted 
radio from out of the depths of totally unreliable 
acoustic effects to the plane of an exact science. It 
lies at the bottom of the ''hook up" system whereby 
radio to-day enjoys its fabulous radius of action. 
What mighty strides has radio accomplished in 
the thirty years that have intervened since William 
Marconi, in 1896, achieved the miracle of communi- 
cating by wireless telegraphy over a distance of one 
and three-fourths miles! Amazing and revolution- 
ary as have been the fruits of scientific invention, 
none rivals the romance of radio. In America the 
art has reached its highest development. Broad- 
casting has become as integral a part of the nation's 
daily life as telephoning and the newspapers. It is 
difficult to conceive what modern American existence 
would be without a receiving set, to be turned on 
and off like an electric light switch. Radio is to-day 
almost as indispensable to human intercourse in the 
United States as the automobile. Six million 
homes are estimated to be equipped with radio re- 
ceivers, and the number is increasing every hour of 
each day. Already the percentage is nearly one set 
to every four homes. America has eighty per cent. 
of all the receiving sets in the world and five times 


as many broadcasting stations as all the rest of the 
countries put together. 

Two thousand firms of radio manufacturers, one 
thousand firms of radio distributors and jobbers, 
and thirty thousand radio retail dealers comprise an 
industry which did two million dollars' worth of 
business in 1920 ; three hundred and fifty million dol- 
lars, in 1925, and probably will do four hundred 
million, or more, in 1926. Directly or indirectly em- 
ployed in radio throughout the world is an army of 
two hundred and fifty thousand persons. 

On January 1, 1922, there were but twenty-eight 
licensed broadcasting stations in the United States, 
the first one having received its authority to begin 
operations on September 15, 1921 — one of the red- 
letter days of radio history. On May 29, 1926, there 
were five hundred and thirty-three licensed broad- 
casting stations. The number is limited only by 
the determination of the Department of Commerce, 
in the hands of which regulation of radio to the 
hour of this writing has been vested, to keep as clear 
as possible the ever-increasing traffic jam in the air. 
No new broadcasting licenses were issued by Sec- 
retary Hoover subsequent to November, 1925, 
although his department had on file, at the beginning 
of the summer of 1926, no fewer than six hundred 
and twenty-three applications for new licenses for 
stations in all parts of the United States. 

On May 29, 1926, radio activities in the United 
States were officially tabulated as follows: 


Class of Station 

Number of Stations 

Conunercial Ship 


Commercial Land 


Commercial Airplane 


Technical and Training 




Government Ship 


Government Land 


Government Airplane 


On June 30, 1925, at the end of the last fiscal year 
of record, there were listed 15,111 amateur radio 
stations. The figures of ship stations are eloquent of 
the magical growth of radio. In 1909 the steamship 
Republic of the White Star Line met in collision 
the Italian ship Florida off Nantucket. The crash 
came in the middle of the night. The first call for 
help flashed from the ocean by a wireless operator 
thrilled the whole world. This was the immortal 
"C. Q. D." signal sent by Jack Binns, whose cool- 
ness and presence of mind resulted in saving the 
lives of one thousand, five hundred human beings on 
a sinking ship. It was the Republic disaster that 
focused the world's attention upon a struggling art 
and crystallized, in dramatic form, the priceless 
value of radio on shipboard. In a sense, radio has 
robbed the sea of its terrors. To-day all sea-going 
vessels carrying fifty persons or more are required 
by international law to carry radio installation and 
competent operators. In 1913 there were but 


four hundred and seventy-nine American vessels 
equipped with radio. In 1926, as the figures herein- 
before set down indicate, three thousand, one hun- 
dred and seventy-seven American ships are fitted 
vAth. the most effective life-saving apparatus the 
mind of man has yet devised. 

Achievements in the broadcasting realm during 
the past two or three years have piled up in an 
unceasing crescendo of magnitude. Literally, no 
one dares predict where they will end. Develop- 
ments that seem fantastic to-day are altogether 
likely to be recorded to-morrow. "Radio vision" is 
believed to be just over the horizon. Transatlantic 
radio-photograms burst upon the astounded gaze of 
American and British newspaper readers, as a daily 
feature, in the spring of 1926. Europe and the Amer- 
icas exchange music and conversation by radio with 
relative ease, though not, as yet, with that complete 
accuracy or dependability which distinguish long- 
distance transmission and reception between points 
in the western hemisphere. On the north shore of 
Long Island the Radio Corporation of America, 
pioneer in transoceanic broadcasting, has con- 
structed a "Radio Central" — a superpower radio 
station for the simultaneous desiJatch of messages 
to, and the receipt of messages from, countries 
across the Atlantic. This colossus of radio, with its 
steel towers covering more than ten square miles of 
land, has made the United States the focal point 
of the world in the transmission and reception of 


wireless intelligence. It stands as a monument to 
American achievement, the greatest mile-stone in 
the progress of radio across the oceans. "Radio 
Central" was opened for public service on Novem- 
ber 5, 1921, with a message to the world from the 
late President Harding. The message was received 
simultaneously and directly in twenty-eight differ- 
ent countries, including far-off New Zealand, Aus- 
tralia and the southermost republics of South 

A year earlier, in November, 1920, radio was 
employed for the first time on a large scale as a 
means of broadcasting news of general interest. 
For that purpose the Westinghouse Company 
erected a broadcasting station KDKA at its great 
plant in East Pittsburgh and inaugurated the 
world's pioneer organized "radio program" service 
with the announcement of the Harding-Cox presi- 
dential election returns. Crude as that service was, 
compared with that rendered by the modern broad- 
casting station, it was a startling demonstration of 
the universal and beneficent power of radio. Little 
did the small groups of first listeners realize that 
within six years the all-penetrating voice of radio 
would echo into six million American homes. 

Men and women differ as to what constitutes 
radio's outstanding achievement to date. There 
are several events that merit distinction and each 
was so marvelous that there is glory enough for all 
of them. When Firpo, the "wild bull of the pam- 


pas," knocked Jack Dempsey out of the ring at the 
Polo Grounds in New York City on September 14, 
1923, the devastating punch from the Argentinian 
gladiator's glove was caught by the ringside micro- 
phone and heard a thousand miles away. Almost a 
year later to the day — on the memorable night of 
September 12, 1924 — General John J. Pershing, 
about to retire from the generalship of the Armies 
of the United States, said good-by by radio, from his 
desk in the AVar Department, to the commanders of 
the nine corps areas of the country, stretching all 
the way from Governors Island in New York to the 
Presidio at San Francisco. It was not exactly a con- 
fidential farewell that Pershing took of his devoted 
subordinates, for the entire nation listened in, and 
enjoyed the General's half -bantering, half-sorrow- 
ing, parting confabs with his comrades precisely as 
if he were addressing every individual listener per- 
sonally. It was a historic night, never to be forgot- 
ten by any one privileged to be part of it, as millions 
upon millions of the American people were. 

Although Pershing was retiring from the army 
that night, the hook-up of the nation's broadcasting 
facilities on a continent-wide scale was designed 
primarily as part and parcel of the Defense Day 
test that day inaugurated. As explained to the 
millions of listeners by General J. J. Carty, one 
of the vice-presidents of the American Telephone 
and Telegraph Company, which was in charge of the 
mighty talkfest, its purpose was to illustrate in a 


practical manner the progress of communications. 
Mr. Carty said: 

''The uses of radio in the national defense are 
many and one of its special functions is to carry 
to all of our citizens a national proclamation or call, 
or a message directed to the people at large. Omit- 
ting the great volume of messages carried daily over 
the telegraph wires, there passes each day over the 
telephone wires of the United States a grand total 
of fifty million messages. In handling this enor- 
mous volume of traffic, forty-five million miles of 
wire are in action, and their availability for serv- 
ice, should they be required in the national defense, 
has been demonstrated. This wire system is spread 
over our country like a great net covering the whole 
republic. From Washington direct connections may 
be established with more than twenty thousand cen- 
tral telephone offices, providing inter-communication 
between them and more than fifteen million individ- 
ual telephone stations. Employed in this mighty 
inter-communication system throughout the United 
States are four hundred and twenty-five thousand 
men and women. This Defense Day test has demon- 
strated that they can be depended upon to perform 
any duty ^vithin their power that may devolve upon 
them at a moment of national emergency. 

''In order that you of the air audience should 
hear the addresses broadcast this evening, nineteen 
radio stations have been called into service and 
thirty-eight thousand miles of wire are employed. 
From these radio stations the words are carried di- 
rect to your ears. It is possible to hold a conversa- 
tion over the long distance telephone wires between 
Washington and any point in the United States. 
Because the radio stations are connected to the 
wires over which I am now talking, it is possible for 
all those who are listening by radio to hear the con- 


"I will now call over the long distance wires a 
number of cities and towns extending from the At- 
lantic seaboard westward to the Pacific, placing all 
of them in direct wire communication with this room 
at Washington. To-night the radio stations are con- 
nected to these wires so the radio listeners may hear 
the conversations taking place over them. In the 
event of a national emergency, such messages would 
reach only the individuals for whom they were in- 
tended. ' ' 

There is a plain-told tale worthy of the Arabian 
Nights. Such an achievement in communication was 
never before attempted in the history of the world. 
It was an epoch-making event. 

The year 1924 was in countless directions an era 
of tremendous accomplishment in radio. Its high- 
water mark was the broadcasting of the Democratic 
''national confusion" in Madison Square Garden 
through those endless and bellicose days and nights 
of June and July. How many millions of edified, 
amused or horrified American citizens on that hectic 
occasion heard Alabama bellow, ''twenty-four votes 
for Underwood," ballot after ballot; or listened in 
while Senator Thomas J. Walsh, the permanent and 
patient chairman of the bedlam, besought some 
delegate to "state his question"; or heard "Al" 
Smith's bands and boosters blare Tlie Sidewalks of 
New York ; or picked up, as millions did, every side 
remark uttered on the convention platform, even 
if it were only a stage whisper — how many of our 
people took part by radio in that unparalleled orgy 
of political turmoil will never be known. But it was 


a prodigious event, the like of which humankind had 
never kno^^^l. There are cynics who avow that the 
ability of the whole people to listen in while the 
Democratic ''national dissension" was in progress in 
1924 was one of the reasons why its splendid nom- 
inee, John W. Da\ds, was not elected. 

In the ensuing national campaign radio's possi- 
bilities for political purposes w^ere utilized to the 
full. President Coolidge had no need, as his im- 
mediate predecessor had, to conduct a front-porch 
campaign, or to swing around the circle and across 
country as many predecessors had done. All Mr. 
Coolidge had to do was to sit in his office or living- 
room at the White House and broadcast his message 
to the electorate, which he repeatedly did, while 
millions listened in. The President does not shine 
as a visible public speaker. But as a radio broad- 
caster he has taken his place among the immortals. 
The Coolidge nasal twang "cuts through" the ether 
ideally and makes the President a perfect performer 
on the wave lengths. The night before election, in 
1924, both the Republican and Democratic candi- 
dates sang their campaign swan songs by radio. 
Mr. Coolidge was particularly etfective. He was 
also uncommonly human. "And now," he said, just 
before closing, "I want to send a good-night greet- 
ing to my father, w^io is listening in at our old home 
near Plymouth, Vermont." There are people who 
say it was his economy program that swept Calvin 
Coolidge into victory next day by a fabulous plu- 


rality. That may be. But certain it is that the radio 
message to his father, since gathered to his progeni- 
tors, struck a responsive chord through the air 
audience across the country and made countless 
votes for the Republican ticket. Radio has never 
known a more kin-making touch of human nature. 
The Republican National Committee estimated that 
the President's final speech of the campaign by 
radio was delivered to an audience of over ten 
million people. In 1925, when Governor Smith was 
battling with the New York Legislature, he resorted 
to the radio as a means of bringing popular pressure 
to bear upon a hostile Assembly and Senate and 
succeeded in doing so. He broadcast an appeal to 
the people to write their representatives at Albany. 
They wrote, and *'Al's" program went through. 

The present writer, for the past three years, 
has been broadcasting regularly each week, except 
during the dull season at Washington, a review 
of national and international events known as 
The Political Situation in Washington To-night 
originally sent out from only station WRC of the 
Radio Corporation of America, it later was relayed 
through the super-power station of the same com- 
pany, WJZ, at New York. Exactly how many 
millions of people listen to that weekly digest of the 
nation's business can not be guessed, except approx- 
imately. But the total runs into staggering figures. 
No one unprivileged to enjoy the unprecedented 
opportunity so generously offered, in the name of 


'^^^ ! I /K' . ' ?i - -'-S-^ > ail' 

t /V.i ^ '•'i • 



public service, b}^ the Radio Corporation of America 
can comprehend the thrill it inspires every time the 
microphone at Washington is faced. One is cer- 
tainly reaching a "circulation" outstripping many 
times the largest number of readers any newspaper 
reaches. It is not only a post of thrill. It is a 
station of responsibility. It carries voice and views 
into the White House and into the ears of members 
of the Cabinet, of Congress and of the diplomatic 
corps. It provokes a mountainous correspondence — 
the most instructive cross-section of popular opin- 
ion encountered in the broadcaster's quarter of a 
century of journalism. It has taught him the price- 
less value of objectivity and of understatement. It 
has sometimes made him wonder whether the com- 
munication of news and views one day may not 
become a regular function of the air rather than the 
monopoly of the press. 

Two giants of radio — Herbert Hoover, Secretary 
of Commerce, to whose lot first fell the task of 
supervising broadcasting activities in the United 
States, and David Sarnoff, brilliant young vice- 
president and general manager of the Radio Cor- 
poration of America — have said terse and illumi- 
nating things about the magical public utiUty that 
is making the world over. 

"Radio," says Hoover, "has already become so 
embedded in American life that we forget that the 
development of this great scientific discovery is but 
a little over five years old. I do not believe any 


other generation in history has had the privilege of 
witnessing the progress from birth to adolescence of 
an invention so profoundly affecting the social and 
economic life of the peoples of the world. No other 
discovery in all time invaded the home so rapidly 
and intrenched itself so securely as radio, and, 
though it is still far from maturity, we see great 
advances every year. . . . We have watched the 
industry grow from the curiosity of a scientific toy 
to a communication system now well-nigh universaL 
So great has it become in service that I believe it 
would be almost possible in a great emergency for 
the President of the United States to address an 
audience of forty or fifty millions of our people. 
It is bringing a vast amount of educational and in- 
formative material into the household. It is bring- 
ing about a better understanding among all of our 
people of the many problems that confront us. It 
is improving the public taste for music and enter- 
tainment. It is bringing contentment into the home. 
We are at the threshold of international exchange of 
ideas by direct speech. That will bring us better 
understanding of mutual world problems. 

''Only over-optimistic prophets would attempt 
to predict radio advance. One thing we are sure 
of — that the radio industry is only in its youth, that 
it will continue to grow with increasing strength. 
If it will succeed, it must continue as in the past to 
devote itself to actual public service, to which it is 
already dedicated.'* 

*' Radio broadcasting," says Sarnoff, *4s fre- 
quently characterized as the infant prodigy of the 
electrical family. But, as is often the case with a 
promising youngster, a httle time and experience 
have already given it character and it is now making 
rapid strides toward maturity. Indeed, in its brief 
span of life, the radio industry has had the cleans- 
ing effect of several baptisms. Each time it 


emerged with a better understanding of its problems 
and those who have benefited by this experience 
gained more vigor and clearer vision. 

"The year 1926 will, I believe, show the distin- 
guishing marks of radio 's efforts in the direction of 
stabilization. The public's preference in radio pro- 
grams and radio devices is better understood. The 
problems of distribution are clarifying themselves, 
and the major problem of the business — broadcast- 
ing — is now receiving attention by many capable 
minds. The industry no longer has a place for the 
mere opportunist. Radio has become a permanent 
asset of our daily life and its future prosperity is 

In this wondrous story of the sky-rocket prog- 
ress of radio, since Maxwell dreamed, Hertz 
materialized and Marconi achieved, Emile Berliner, 
inventor of the microphone and the continuous cur- 
rent transformer, played worthily and effectively 
his part. He is at the age, now, when men indulge 
in introspection, and in his reveries he speculates in- 
tensively about the spiritual value and ultimate 
potentialities of radio. Primarily he considers that 
it will become an irresistible force for peace. Men 
do not quarrel when they understand one another. 
Nations, Berliner thinks, are less likely to fling at 
one another's throats if they possess a common de- 
nominator in the field of thought interchange. Radio 
seems Heaven-sent, to the originator of the micro- 
phone, for the purpose of establishing upon earth 
for all time and among all peoples the reign of good 



AUGUST THYSSEN— ^'King Thyssen," the 
Rhinelanders used to call the late colossus of 
German steel and iron — had a philosophy which he 
epitomized in the phrase: *'If I rest, I rust." That 
terse and alliterative expression of the strenuous 
life personifies Emile Berliner. His entire career 
has been one long consistent refusal to rust, and 
to-day, just over the threshold of his threescore 
years and fifteen, he as resolutely eschews the privi- 
lege of rest. An uncommonly sturdy physique, a 
mental attitude toward men and matters that defies 
the ravages of time, and an unquenchable sense of 
humor combine to fit him, at seventy-five, for new 
attempts at conquests in whichever fields of scien- 
tific or humanitarian endeavor he cares to furrow. 
His hand, indeed, is actually on a plow that he 
expects to trench entirely new ground in the area 
of architecture. As it was acoustics that led Ber- 
liner into the unexplored regions of the telephone 
and the talking machine, it is the science of sound 
that has again summoned him to active service on 
the firing-line of invention. Emile Berliner, at the 



beginning of the autumn of 1926, is ready to intro- 
duce a scientifically worked-out method of making 
churches, theaters, opera-houses and assembly halls 
of every description acoustically infallible. 

He contends that there has never been a time 
when architects could guarantee satisfactory acous- 
tic qualities in any interior designed for auditory 
purposes — whether it be a church, a cathedral, a 
concert hall, a railroad waiting-room (in which train 
departures or arrivals are announced), a theater, 
or a full-sized auditorium in which great gatherings 
like national conventions are held. The reason why 
poor acoustics can not be combatted mth mathe- 
matical precision has never been positively known. 
The usual recourse, when an interior is found to be 
acoustically defective, is to cover the walls with 
sound absorbing material. This weakens the objec- 
tionable reverberations or other acoustic impurities, 
but also reduces the loudness of the sounds sent 
forth by speaker, singer, actor, instrumentalist or 
orchestra. Moreover, 'porous walls covered with 
cloth or felt are highly insanitary, absorb dust and 
germs, and can not be washed, as walls of public 
halls require to be, at frequent intervals. 

Berliner studied hall acoustics for years. He 
is an inveterate theater-goer and music-lover, and 
a sharply-trained ear long since made him acute in 
the detection of acoustical inadequacies in many of 
the temples of entertainment into which the Ameri- 
can public is from time to time beguiled. Berliner 


eventually came to the conclusion that the cause 
of bad acoustics is the hardness or rigidity of the 
usual brick or stone walls. He observed that an 
auditorium that has wooden walls, especially of pine 
or spruce that vibrates freely, also has superior 
acoustics. It was this theory that Berliner devel- 
oped logically in what he terms ''acoustic tiles.'* 
These are composed of porous cement, are as hard 
as stone, and yet have the resonance of wood when 
vibrated by a tuning fork. They are the fruit of 
more than twenty years of research and experiment. 

Emile Berliner's remedy for the knotty problem 
of hall acoustics consists of a process of cementing 
these tiles to the walls of an auditorium over a suffi- 
ciently large area, thus combining the hardness and 
dignity of a stone wall with the resonance of wooden 
panels. The tiles can be molded ornamentally to 
please the taste of an architect, or builder, or prop- 
erty-owner, and may form the final finish of walls. 
They may even be painted without reducing their 
acoustic efficiency. 

Another method which Berliner has found to be 
feasible is to attach flat acoustic cells of wire netting 
to a rough finished wall and spread "acoustic ce- 
ment" over them. This the inventor has demon- 
strated to be thoroughly efficient, acoustically, and 
the process lends itself to any treatment applicable 
to plain cement walls. 

A prominent Roman Catholic churchman, before 
whom Berliner demonstrated his invention, repre- 


sented that in countless communities Catholic 
churches have been erected with an eye to nearly 
everything except proper hearing facilities. He 
was fascinated by the prospect that Berliner's 
acoustic tiles offer and expressed the belief that the 
princes of the Roman church, then about to assemble 
at Chicago for the great twenty-eighth International 
Eucharistic Congress, would be deeply interested in 
the possibility of enabling a priest, bishop or car- 
dinal to celebrate mass in speaking tones and yet 
be audible many hundreds of feet away. That is the 
boon Berliner believes his acoustic tiles hold out. 
Architects and builders who have heard him ex- 
pound his theories are persuaded they contain germs 
of an important advance in interior construction. 

Berliner has converted the basement of his 
*' Bureau of Health Education" building on Colum- 
bia Road in Washington into a laboratory for con- 
ducting practical experiments with acoustic tiles. 
Ordinarily the room in question serves the purpose 
of a billiard room. Berliner has covered the walls 
with his *'loud speaking" tiles. A simple experi- 
ment which he is fond of making is to let a visitor 
walk a little distance from the door in the hall that 
leads into the billiard room. Then Berliner asks 
the visitor to listen to his own footsteps. As soon 
as the billiard room is entered, the footsteps sound 
twice or three times as loud as they sounded in the 
hall outside, although the floors of the hall and the 
billiard room are of precisely the same material. 


Another demonstration that carries simple con- 
viction to the lay mind is for Berliner to lead a 
caller to a brick wall, and there set a tuning fork to 
vibrating. The fork is applied to the wall, but 
scarcely any sound is heard. Then the inventor lays 
against the brick wall one of his tiles measuring 
about eight inches in diameter and three-eighths of 
an inch in thickness and touches the vibrative fork 
against the face of the tile. There results a ringing 
sound as if the tuning fork were applied to the 
sound board of a piano. 

Berliner asserts there is nothing in the science 
of acoustics that challenges the soundness of his 
premises or the practical form which he has given 
them. He has boldly disregarded previous theories, 
and, as an irrepressible scientific iconoclast, has set 
out on wholly original paths to achieve a solution. 
One major demonstration on a large scale — say, cor- 
recting with the use of his tiles the notoriously bad 
acoustics in some well-known church or theater — 
will, Berliner is confident, establish the practical 
utility of his invention. He holds that the preva- 
lence of improper hearing facilities in public places 
without number the world over is due to imperfect 
reasoning on the part of architect and builder and to 
the chance they are given to taking — of ''guessing 
right." Acoustic tiles are designed to substitute re- 
liability for guess-work. Said an architect to Ber- 
liner on one occasion: "Acoustics has always been a 
gamble." Berliner rejoined: ''You're right; and, 
as I'm against all gambling, I want to stop this!" 


Berliner made the first public presentation of 
his solution for coming to grips with the obscure 
and baffling problem of hall acoustics in Washington 
on October 8, 1925. The occasion was a meeting of 
the local chapter of the American Institute of Archi- 
tects. In that presence Berliner read the follo\ving 
paper : 

"The object of this paper is to present to you the 
solution of a problem that has at all times appeared 
a difficult one to handle. 

"Let me first advance the following proposi- 
tions : 

"1. Every partly or nearly wholly enclosed body 
of air assumes a rhythmic vibration which will re- 
sound either as a tone or as a so-called reverbera- 
tion whenever that air-body is agitated; the larger 
the volume of air, the slower the rhythm of the tone 
or of the reverberation mil be. 

"2. When the agitation is caused by any sound 
in the neighborhood of the air-body whose vibration 
corresponds with the individual rhythm of the air- 
body, then the response will be strong and resonant. 

"3. When the agitation is caused by a sound 
whose pitch is merely acoustically related to the 
rhythm of the air-body, then the resonance or the 
reverberation mil be only noticeable. 

"4. The harder or the more rigid the walls 
which enclose an air-body, the more intense will be 
its individual tone or its reverberation. 

"In collections of physical apparatus we often 


see sets of resonators consisting of hollow brass 
balls of different sizes which are provided with open 
necks like a bottle and each of which will reverberate 
and emit its own resonant tone when that same note 
is sounded in the neighborhood, or when air is blown 
across the open neck. 

''Organ pipes are examples of such resonators 
and when made of metal the sound emitted by them 
is louder, though sometimes less penetrating or 
carrying, than if made of wood. 

''Any bottle will illustrate all this by sounding 
or singing notes of different pitches into or in front 
of it or blowing air across the open neck when the 
individual note can be quickly discovered. I have 
here a set of dinner gongs consisting of metal bars 
mounted over wooden boxes that have openings at 
the tops and which are tuned to correspond with the 
notes of the bars. When the holes in the boxes are 
covered and the bars are struck they emit their notes 
but feebly and without resonance. But when the 
boxes are open the latter will sound in unison when 
the bars are struck and the notes will be ringing 
with a beautiful resonance. 

"The pitch of every sound depends on the num- 
ber of its vibrations, and the limits within which 
the human ear can differentiate between different 
pitches range from about sixteen vibrations per sec- 
ond for the lowest notes to about sixteen thousand 
per second for the highest. Below sixteen vibra- 
tions the sounds are mere noises or booms and above 


about sixteen thousand they appear as squeaks or 
high whistles if emitted by instruments. While, 
however, the average human ear can differentiate 
sounds only within about these limitations, the 
sounds beyond, either below sixteen thousand or 
above sixteen thousand, maintain the law of reso- 
nance. This is particularly obvious with low pitched 
sounds which will become audible if, for instance, 
octaves of their notes are sounded in their neighbor- 
hood. We may even assume that large masses of 
enclosed air might represent indi\T.dual notes having 
only a few vibrations per second, and yet such air- 
bodies would emit their rhythmic sound if they were 
agitated by sounds whose notes may be related and 
are, say, one or more octaves above them. Nor would 
this be necessary if such air-bodies were agitated by 
mere shocks. A blow by a hammer, a tramp of feet, 
or a striking of any hard object will set up the reso- 
nance and produce the indi^ddual vibration of that 
air-body, though this note may be of a pitch below 
the recognizable register of the human ear. It is 
then termed reverberation pure and simple. 

"The resonators mentioned heretofore, like 
organ pipes or dinner gongs, were all of regular 
forms, being either tubes or oblong boxes. But we 
have in the string instruments of the violin type 
hollow boxes of irregular shapes which apparently 
do not follow out the propositions advanced. If they 
did, then every time a string note was played which 
corresponded to the individual note of the air-body 


that note would be reenforced by the violin box and 
would sound much louder than the rest. On first 
consideration it naight be concluded that the irreg- 
ular shape of the \iolin or the bass viol was respon- 
sible for the absence of individual resonance or 
reverberation. This is, however, erroneous, be- 
cause a violin made of glass or metal, such as now 
and then has been tried, does emit its individual 
note and follows our fourth proposition relating to 
the question of how rigid the walls are which en- 
close the air-body. The note so emitted by a glass 
or metal violin of a Stradivarius model corresponds 
to a tone having about five hundred vibrations per 
second or to the tone of B of the middle tenor reg- 

"Hence it follows that the reason why a violin 
does not resonate or reverberate the individual tone 
of its enclosed air-body is because its walls are not 
rigid enough to permit the development of individ- 
ual resonance. 

**I will now present some facts which, while ob- 
served in an entirely different branch of technology, 
have considerable bearing on the problem of hall 
acoustics. Many years ago when I began my inves- 
tigations which led up to the gramophone, I was 
bothered considerably by the resonance of the horns 
which I used as sound collectors. Individual notes 
would be recorded and would reproduce much louder 
than other notes by the same singer or from the 
same musical instrument. 


*'I soon discovered that the disturbing sounds 
were always in the same key and that their notes 
corresponded to the individual note of the horn used 
for recording them. These horns were at that time 
usually several feet long and had flared openings, 
or so-called bells, from eight to twelve inches in di- 
ameter. Their individual note was well mthin the 
register of the male voice so that scarcely a song or 
a musical composition could be recorded but the dis- 
turbance took place. Soprano voices were not so 
much affected by it, but the instruments used for 
accompanying the voice were. Employing smaller 
horns, while doing away with the disturbance, re- 
duced the sensitiveness of the contrivance and, since 
loud effects were desired, singers would have to 
stand close to the horn in order to register their 
voices with sufficient power or amplitude. 

**I do not recall now what else I did to try to 
remedy the trouble, but I finally discovered that 
punching a certain number of small holes into the 
sides of the horn would destroy the individual reso- 
nance of the horns and obviate the disturbance. 

''The modus operandi consisted in punching 
three or four rows of small holes, each row of about 
six holes, lengthwise, along the horn into the mate- 
rial of which the horn was made, generally common 
tinplate. This would much reduce the individual 
resonance. Then holes would be gradually added, 
the resonance tried again until it would have ceased. 
After this point was reached the effect of adding 


further holes would merely weaken the capacity of 
the horn for transmitting or deflecting sound 
against the recording diaphragm. 

''Such perforated, or as we used to call them, 
ventilated horns faithfully transmitted all sounds 
equally well to the recording diaphragm and per- 
mitted perfect recording, and with all larger horns 
perforations have been employed ever since. 

"But when horns of these sizes were employed 
in reproducing machines the disturbance of individ- 
ual resonance was not noticed because the pressure 
of the sound vibrations came from the diaphragm 
outward and the cause of the resonance which is 
rhythmic elastic compression of enclosed air did 
not occur. 

''When about twenty years ago I prepared this 
address originally, it occurred to me that the theories 
of individual resonance as advanced in the four 
propositions with which I began this paper might 
be further tested if I tried horns of pyramidical in- 
stead of conical shape such as are used in cabinet 
talking machines. In such horns there are four 
triangular plates of wood or metal which form a 
sound chamber. Their sides are not rigid as in a 
conical horn, but semi-elastic, each side forming a 
panel capable of freely vibrating within certain lim- 
its, depending on the thickness of the wood or other 
material of which they consisted. 

"My anticipations that such a horn would ex- 
hibit reduced individual resonance in recording, or 


none at all, proved true and confirms the fourth 
proposition that individual resonance or reverbera- 
tion of enclosed air-bodies depends on the greater 
or lesser rigidity of the walls which enclose the air. 

**Let me now take a brief survey of what we find 
in large rooms, halls or auditoriums, considering 
their acoustic conditions. 

''What is demanded is that sounds from the plat- 
form of the speaker or singer or performer should 
be heard loudly and distinctly over all the auditor- 
ium. In particular boomy reverberations should be 
absent, because they not only impair distinctness, 
but jumble and destroy the evenness of rendition 
so that some portions of a speech are heard dis- 
tinctly and others not. 

''It is an old experience that a hall when empty 
may exhibit marked reverberation but, after the 
audience has filed in, the disturbance has disap- 
peared ; at the same time, however, the resonance of 
the sound of the speaker or performer is greatly 
weakened. What has happened is this. The side of 
the auditorium taken by the acoustically elastic 
wooden floor has been covered with a mass of flesh 
and clothing which absorb the vibrations striking 
against them and therefore impair the resonance of 
the voices or notes themselves. 

"Or an empty and unfinished room may exhibit 
a fine natural resonance without any disturbing re- 
verberation, but after it has been carpeted, and 
hangings put in, sounds are muffled. This accounts 


for the fact that a piano or a violin tried out in the 
bare and unfurnished rooms at the music dealers 
and appearing of brilliant tone will often sound un- 
satisfactory when it is being played in the furnished 
home of the purchaser. 

*'The worst examples of bad acoustics occur in 
fine old cathedrals and in the large waiting-rooms of 
magnificent railroad stations. It is next to imposs- 
ible to understand the sermons or the strenuous 
efforts of the criers when calling out trains. There 
are larger churches built of brick or stone in which 
the acoustics are not so very bad, but very few in 
which they are very good. At best it requires care- 
ful voice handling on the part of the minister, unless 
he be a natural elocutionist, to make himself easily 
understood. When a newly built hall is found to 
have poor acoustics the remedies applied, while 
helping in some respects, usually impair the speak- 
ing voice trying to reach the distant part of the 
audience as w^ell. 

*'But there are within my knowledge two large 
auditoriums the acoustic properties of which are not 
only not bad but exceptionally fine, and these are 
the Tabernacle at Salt Lake City, seating eight thou- 
sand people, and the Wagner Theater in Bayreuth, 
with a seating capacity of about two thousand. 

"I shall never forget the impression which I re- 
ceived when our traveling party one summer day 
inspected the Bayreuth Theater at a time when no 
performances were given. After we had entered I 


began to comment on the seating capacity and the 
simplicity of the designs. Every word I uttered in 
a subdued voice echoed into my ears with wonderful 
resonance. It was not the boomy reverberation one 
notices in cathedrals but a true resonance which 
increased the volume of the voice without in the 
slightest degree changing its quality. And no mat- 
ter in what part of the theater I tried it the reso- 
nance was beautiful and perfect everywhere. 

**In the very large auditorium at Salt Lake City 
words spoken in an ordinary voice at the speaker's 
platform are distinctly understood at distant places, 
and of course the musical results are always superb. 

**Both these great halls are built of wood, or 
their interiors at least show wooden walls, and in 
the light of my fourth proposition it leads to the 
conclusion that the elastic or vibratory character of 
wooden auditorium walls is mostly responsible for 
their good acoustical results. 

''There are, however, several objections to the 
using of wooden walls in large halls or auditoriums. 
They are inflammable and they lack architectural 
dignity. They do not impress with that feeling of 
permanence which stone or marble walls, or cement 
imitations of these, convey to the discerning mind. 

*'In the new development which I bring before 
you to-day a compromise has been effected by cover- 
ing walls ivith elastic cement tiles and which have 
the acoustic resonance of wood. This is accom- 
plished, first, by mixing a porous material like 


asbestos, pumice or sawdust with the cement, and 
second, by shaping these tiles so that when joined to 
the wall they form vibratory diaphragms. At pres- 
ent the acoustic tiles are eight inches in diameter 
and consist of square center portions about a 
quarter-inch thick and projecting rims by which they 
are cemented to the wall. "With substances like 
asbestos and pumice the tiles could be made of china 
clay or of terra cotta and be baked in fire as a real 
tile is. 

''Acoustic tiles may have any surface grain de- 
sired and it is not unlikely that grouping together 
larger and smaller tiles on the same set of walls 
may result in increased resonance for certain defi- 
nite purposes. 

''Existing churches, theaters or concert halls 
with defective acoustics may, I think, be readily cor- 
rected by covering sections of their interiors with 
acoustic tiles to a sufficient height for catching and 
reflecting the voices of speakers or singers as well 
as the tones of instruments. ' ' 



X-RAYING the man to-day, at threescore and 
fifteen, with so many achievements to his 
credit that ahnost any one of them would assure 
him place in the Hall of Fame, it is plain that inven- 
tive success came to Emile Berliner because of three 
qualities indispensable in the scientific explorer — 
driving force, inconquerable optimism and contempt 
for failure. Berliner is a stubborn man, and stub- 
bornness, in an inventor, is pure gold. 

''Above all," he once said, "the inventor must 
have the patience and fortitude to face failures — 
hundreds of them, if necessary — and still keep on. 
He must be ready to average ninety-nine failures for 
one success or one encouraging development. He 
must work hard, and be content to slave for months 
at a time without registering apparent progress. He 
must not be disheartened by the necessity to travel 
over the same ground again and again, or by the 
sudden necessity to detour. Therein lies the key to 
victory — never-ending application. The idea that 
an inventor is necessarily a genius is entirely fallac- 
ious. Genius for invention is only the capacity for 



concentration. Given that, plus the power of ob- 
servation, and you have the raw material for a suc- 
cessful inventor." 

Berliner has frittered away an amazingly small 
amount of time on the trifles of modern existence. 
He tabulates work as his recreation, though he con- 
fesses to one play-time hobby — billiards. He attri- 
butes to the creative atmosphere of America his 
passion for accomplishing things. ''In the United 
States," Berliner says, "you are w^hat you have 
done/^ He considers that he was richly blessed in 
having been deprived of too many advantages in 
early life. ''I once knew a man," the inventor likes 
to recall, "who said he gave his son every possible 
advantage except one — he could not give him a poor 

Intellectual curiosity was implanted in Berliner 
in youth. At the only school he ever attended, Wolf- 
enbiittel, in Hanover province, which he left when 
he was fourteen years old, his teachers dubbed him 
a hermit "because I was so much alone — thinking." 
All his life he has cultivated the tedious art of tak- 
ing pains. He has a card-index mind which endows 
him with a talent for sorting out ideas and for 
winnowing theoretical chaff from practical grain. 
He possesses an extraordinarily concentrated eye- 
sight — a physical vision which supplements a men- 
tal insight and forms a combination making for 
unusual power of penetration. Unlike most inven- 
tors, Berliner is an able business man. He made 


shrewd investments, largely in District of Columbia 
land, with the early fruits of his scientific successes. 
He has always preferred looking after his own 
affairs, and has a passion for promptness and order- 
liness in connection with them. 

Asked to name Emile Berliner's principal per- 
sonal characteristic, the average man or woman who 
knows him unhesitatingly says: '' Generosity." A 
fortune came to him relatively soon in life, and it 
grew rapidh'. His benefactions have always kept 
pace with his prosperity, though they were not, and 
are not, of the sort that attract the light of publicity. 
Berliner has devoted a king's ransom to his child 
health work. 

BerUner bubbles with good nature. He would 
rather perpetrate a witticism than an opinion, and 
prefers telling or hearing good stories to holding 
post-mortems on his scientific past. To many au 
aspiring young man Berliner has said: ** Never 
dwell on a success. Eeach out for the next ! " He is 
a modest man. For more than ten years family and 
friends tried in vain to induce him to compile his 
autobiography. He thinks autobiography is the 
stage of life a man reaches when he begins to take 
himself seriously, and Berliner has always warded 
off that s^^nptom of dotage, as he calls it. "Within 
these pages is the only account of the inventor's 
career for which Berliner has ever taken the time to 
assemble essential data. "Wlien friends become ad- 
ulatory about his discoveries, he dismisses these as 


''just good guesses." He wanted to call this volume 
Guessing Right. Berliner tenaciously refused to 
become the lion of festivities which prominent 
Washington friends wanted to arrange in honor of 
the seventy-fifth anniversary of his birth on May 20, 
1926. When the day came, he stole away to Swarth- 
more College, where a favorite granddaughter. Miss 
Gertrude Sanders, is an undergraduate, and spent 
the diamond jubilee with her and nine other co-eds 
at lunch and on the Quaker campus. 

Once Berliner met an old friend in a Washington 
optician's shop after a lapse of many years. He 
banteringly berated the man for ** neglecting" him 
and never taking the trouble to reknit the ties of 
other times. The friend, a little flustered, resorted 
to the ruse of changing the conversation by admir- 
ing a beautiful pigeon-blood ruby ring which Ber- 
liner wore. ''Emile," he said, "that's a handsome 
ring you've got there. You promised me that!" 
Berliner replied that he was sorry he couldn't part 
with the jewel, as it was a present, many years pre- 
vious, from Mrs. Berliner. A couple of days later 
the inventor's old friend was astonished to receive 
from a fashionable jeweler's shop an exact duplicate 
of the ruby ring with Berliner's compliments. 

When Berliner Avas launching his pure-milk 
crusade in Washington, he was at more or less in- 
cessant war mth the local doctors. The Medical 
Society objected in particular to his gratis circula- 
tion of The Bottle-Fed Baby, on the ground that it 

Mr. Berlixer in Fkoxt of Microphoxe at WEC Broadcastixc; 

Statiox, V\'AsnixGTOx, D. C. The Author of This Volume Since 

1923 Has Broadcast "The Political Situation in Washington 

To-night"' Weekly through the Microphoxe Here Shown 


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gave young mothers so much and so sound advice on 
the rearing of infants that it was almost as potent 
as an apple a day — it kept the doctor away. Finally 
the Medical Society decided to invite Berliner to a 
joint conference at which the merits and demerits of 
The Bottle-Fed Bahy would be thoroughly discussed. 

^'We shall name five delegates," said the medics 
to Berliner, **and you may name five." 

**I don't need but three," the inventor-humani- 
tarian rejoined. 

The conference was duly convened. Berliner's 
trio of protagonists consisted of Doctor George 
Martin Kober, Professor of Hygiene and Dean of 
the Medical Faculty of Georgetown University, 
Washington; Doctor Ernest Charles Schroeder, 
Veterinarian and Expert on Animal Industry in the 
Department of Agriculture; and Mrs. E. R. Grant, 
Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Child 
Health Education of the National Tuberculosis 

Berliner introduced his **big three" to the Med- 
ical Society ''trial board" and reeled off their re- 
spective ranks, titles and scientific stations in life 
with impressive solemnity. 

Going through the motions of being staggered by 
this galaxy of talent, the spokesman of the doctors 
ejaculated : 

''Why, Mr. Berliner, you leave me speechless!" 

"Well, Doctor," Berliner replied, "we expected 
to render you speechless with our argument, but not 


with our mere presence. Are we to consider the 
matter settled without conference?" 

When the World War broke out in 1914, Emile 
Berliner, though of German origin, made prompt 
avowal of his unqualified pro-Ally sympathies. 
He has always had an amused contempt for the pre- 
tensions of the more arrogant type of German, 
especially of the titled aristocrat and military breed. 
Menials in Germany, when they want to fawn upon 
a superior, frequently address a vain and suscep- 
tible male as ''Herr Baron" (Mr. Baron). To-day 
Emile Berliner is fond of bestoudng that mock title 
of nobility upon his intimate friends, especially if 
they understand German. 

The inventor of the microphone, despite his Ger- 
man blood, is a tireless spinner of yarns illustrative 
of Teuton pretensions and foibles. 

''A Yankee millionaire once was motoring 
through Berlin," Berliner narrates, ''and drove 
helter-skelter through Brandenburg Gate (Berlin's 
Arc de Triomphe at the head of Unter den Linden). 
A policeman stopped the American on the other side 
of the gate. 'You're fined five hundred marks,' the 
cop said. 'What for?' asked the Yankee. 'For using 
a part of this arch reserved exclusively for the 
kaiser.' The American pulled out his pocketbook 
and gave the policeman one thousand marks. 'I said 
five hundred marks,' the Scliutzmann explained. 'I 
heard you the first time,' the man from the United 
States said, 'but I'm coming back!' " 


Berliner was once asked what impressed him 
most about pre-war Berlin, when sabers rattled 
more conspicuously than in this democratic day 
on the Spree. *'The Prussian mounted police," he 
replied. '^I liked the intelligent look on the face of 
the horses!" The republican police has improved. 

A friend, during this golden jubilee year of the 
invention of the Bell telephone, asked Emile Ber- 
liner if he thought the telephone is now perfect. 

"No," the maker of the transmitter chuckled. 
''I've got three more inventions up my sleeve — one 
is a scheme to prevent your getting the wrong num- 
ber; another, which '11 prevent you from being cut 
off, and a third, perhaps the most important of 
all, which will prevent johnnies and flappers from 
talking at a stretch more than twenty minutes dur- 
ing the busy hours of the forenoon!" 

Berliner says he has only one regret about the 
invention of the gramophone. He thinks it ought to 
have been devised so that records couldn 't be played 
after ten o 'clock at night, except for dancing. 

In his old home on Columbia Road, in Washing- 
ton, Berliner once had a large golden eagle hanging 
in the front hall. A gullible visitor was inquisitive 
about the gleaming bird's origin. 

''That," said Berliner, with great gravity, "is 
the original American eagle shot by George Wash- 
ington in the Rocky Mountains. He gave it to his 
bodyguard, who was a cousin of Uncle Tom, and for 
years it hung in Uncle Tom's cabin. One day Har- 


riet Beecher Stowe visited Uncle Tom, and out of 
gratitude for having been written up by Mrs. Stowe, 
he gave her the eagle. Mrs. Stowe took it to New 
York and after her death her effects were sold at 
auction. It was bought by a wholesale feather mer- 
chant, and one day I bought it from him!" 

Berliner has an uncommonly good memory — bet- 
ter, he says, than the absent-minded German pro- 
fessor who said: ''There are three things I can 
never remember: names, faces, and the other thing 
I have completely forgotten!" 

Although he has been away from the Fatherland 
fifty-six years, Berliner still speaks a classic Ger- 
man, and can quote Goethe and Schiller like a Herr 
Professor. AVhen the war depopularized the use of 
the kaiser's jawbreaking language in America, a 
German-American friend asked Berliner what the 
latter was going to substitute for Gesundheit 
(Health), the ancient German greeting when one 
hears another sneeze. 

"Say 'Liberty!' " Berliner suggested. He acted 
on his own proposal, and throughout the war when 
anybody in the Berliner household sneezed, some- 
body exclaimed: "Liberty!" 

Berliner considered Luther Burbank one of the 
outstanding men of our day. Once the inventor of 
the microphone described the union of a certain 
eminent American couple, the fairer of whom is in- 
incomparably more charming, as "a Luther Burbank 
marriage — the union of a 'lemon' and a 'peach.' " 


Hardly a day passes that Emile Berliner is not 
asked his recipe for keeping eternally youthful in 
spirit and point of view, looking young out of tune 
\dth his age, and for the almost boyish springiness 
that marks his every step and gesture. He claims 
never to have sipped at the rejuvenating fountain 
of Ponce de Leon, or had resort to any of the 
standard elixirs of life, but to have adhered, rather, 
to six whimsical "rules" of his o^vn fashioning: 

1. Select healthy parents. 

2. Follow Doctor Pat's advice to liis friend 
Mike: "Ni^^er have anything on yer mind but ver 

3. Keep away from raw milk, from raw cream 
and from butter made of unpasteurized cream. 

4. Get all the sleep your body seems to need. 

5. Seek the association of persons younger than 

6. Don't carry grievances — cultivate cheerful- 
ness, kindliness and smiles. 

Because like "Bobs" in Eudyard Kipling's bar- 
rack-room ballad, " 'e does not advertise," Emile 
Berliner's virtues as father, friend and man are 
those most often acclaimed in the immediate circle 
of his acquaintances and admirers. They know of 
the love he has lavished upon a large family ; of the 
pious devotion with which he honors the memory of 
his mother; of the unostentatious and unrecorded 
charities he is constantly rendering; of his aggres- 
sive public spirit; of his fondness for old friends, 
especially the comrades of his struggling days. 


They know, in particular, of the sympathetic back- 
ground and sustaining influence wliich have been 
vouchsafed Emile Berliner by a well-regulated 
home, over which the companion of forty-five years 
still presides. They know what the combination of 
wife and fireside has meant to the restless inventor. 
They know the joyous pride he has unceasingly 
taken in the six children that Cora Adler Berliner 
bore him — all of them now grown up and married, 
with a glorious brood of seven grandchildren in 
whose company Emile Berliner derives endless con- 
firmation of his theory that advancing age is most 
successfully resisted amid the environment of 
' ' flaming youth. ' ' 



EMILE BERLINER does not believe that we 
already inhabit the best of all possible worlds. 
He has survived to see it become an immeasurably 
happier place of abode, spiritually, esthetically and 
scientifically, than any planet the ancients could pos- 
sibly have envisaged. In that development of 
human well-being, Berliner has had a share, as these 
pages have set out. But the inventor-humanitarian, 
whose optimism and idealism are always tinctured 
with realism and conunon sense, has an abiding 
faith that if he could survey the terrestrial scene a 
hundred years hence, he would find mankind as far 
in advance of present-hour progress as the America 
of to-day fabulously outstrips the pioneer era from 
which it sprang. 

Yet, paradoxical as it may sound, Emile Ber- 
liner's firmest conclusion mth reference to the 
future is: "1 do not hiotv." He contends that "we 
know only so far as we can demonstrate." He 
points out that those who have demonstrated most 
feel, as a rule, that they have not penetrated very 
far; that, in a sense they have only scratched the 



surface of the inscrutable soil they essayed to till. 
Berliner, in a word, holds that the true scientist is, 
intuitively, the least dogmatic of men. The word 
cocksureness is not in his lexicon. 

AMien Berliner is asked for his "philosophy of 
life," as he frequently is, he takes recourse in James 
Clerk Maxwell's Atoms. In that essay, the English 
mathematician who blazed the trail that led to radio, 
said : 

"Science is incompetent to reason upon the crea- 
tion of matter itself out of nothing. We have 
reached the utmost limit of our thinking faculties 
when we have admitted that, because matter can not 
be eternal and self-existent, it must have been 

"Whenever I scan that prescient passage in 
Maxwell," says Berliner, "and realize that the 
greatest mathematical physicist of the nineteenth 
century thus had to admit the fallibility of human 
logic, I cease to worry about the infinite." Berliner 
has a personal creed that is based to a considerable 
extent on the Maxwellian theory. As to religion, 
Berliner inclines to Elbert Hubbard's view that 
"mf-re dogma is a hard substance that forms in a 
soft brain." 

But the maker of the microphone believes that 
religion is an indispensable factor in life because 
its institutional feature — the church — is the only 
agency that has for its primary object the pre- 
sentation and propagation of ideals. Without ideals. 


Berliner asserts, ''civilized society would disin- 
tegrate. ' ' 

One of the calls echoing urgently from the future 
to the present, in Emile Berliner's judgment, is for 
a program of popular education in sex psychology', 
i. e., the understanding, by men, of the minds of 
women. He considers such a program fundamental 
to the happiness of the human race. If the sexes 
understood each other better, greater unity of pur- 
pose ■would come out of willing compromises, and 
marriage would be less of a gamble. 

"Marriage," Berliner affirms, "is a mutual ac- 
commodation between the natural instinct to mate 
and the laws of society that are necessary for the 
protection of children. Happy marriages are un- 
doubtedly the best solutions of the mating instinct 
and afford the most solid foundation for civilized 
society. Unfortunately, economic conditions con- 
tinuously operate against early marriages craved by 
Nature. Human society, of course, has been grap- 
pling with the problem, in all its multifarious rami- 
fications, since the da^^l of Time, and demanded a 
solution not yet vouchsafed the children of men. 
Only in recent times has youth apparently revolted 
openly against a system it finds intolerable, claim- 
ing the right to love as youth's natural preroga- 

"What is your remedy for this state of affairs?" 
Berliner was asked while this story of his life was 
in the making. 


** Probably Ingersoll had the right answer," Ber- 
liner replied. ''Many years ago I discussed this rid- 
dle of the universe — sex — with the great agnostic. 
Ingersoll said: 'Some day you scientific men will 
furnish a simple means of birth control. That will 
help to bring about a solution of the sex question.' 
Ingersoll placed his finger on the strategic feature 
of the problem. To-day the time which he foresaw 
has almost arrived." 

On the eternal issue of how a world peopled with 
men and women, in whom belligerency and covetous- 
ness are dormant, if not active, traits, can abolish 
war, Emile Berliner holds stimulating views. He 
believes the international millennium is much more 
likely to be promoted by language than by leagues. 
"A prime means to 'end war,' " he says, "would in 
my opinion be the adoption of a universal language 
which every schoolchild in creation would learn. 
Literature in that language would then bo fostered 
in every land. Radio would speak a tongue under- 
stood around the globe, and could carry it to the 
uttermost corners. I believe that English, with 
reformed and simplified spelling, would make an 
excellent universal language. This would lead the 
nations readily into a common channel of thought, 
would make every mind accessible to universal 
ideals, and would enable every great writer to dis- 
seminate his ideals in all directions. The fraterni- 
zation of the nations would automatically ensue and 
continue. There would be no more 'foreigners' or 


'aliens' in a world inhabited by men and women 
who talked to each other in a language common to 

Berliner contends that such thoughts as these are 
not the dreamings of an impractical idealist. **0n 
March 23, 1926," he points out, ''the Associated 
Press carried the following striking news: 'Com- 
plete annihilation of space for the human voice is the 
ultimate aim of engineers of the American Tele- 
phone and Telegraph Company, now perfecting a 
commercial transatlantic telephone service. They 
believe that ultimately men will be able to talk be- 
tween any two points on the face of the earth.* 
Thus, we see, the engineers are doing their part. Let 
the dreamers and the idealists — and the philolo- 
gists — ^now do theirs." 

His contemporaries often seek light and leading 
from Emile Berliner on the puzzle of the life 
hereafter. "Intermolecular space," he replies, "ex- 
ists between the molecules or atoms and may par- 
take and embody in its ether something of the 
activities of the molecules. Under this entirely 
scientific assumption a so-called astral body, a body 
of ether, might remain after the dissolution or scat- 
tering of the molecules of the human body. This, I 
believe, as a theory, might presage some individual 
activity after death." 

Emile Berliner, as he looks down the endless cor- 
ridor of the future, foresees a world in which women 
through educated motherhood will play a tremen- 


dously increasing role. In his own realm of science, 
in particular, he visualizes them as factors bound 
one day to serve mankind as effectually as men 
scientists in the long past have done. That women, 
with rare exceptions like Madame Curie, hitherto 
have not shone scientifically Berliner attributes 
primarily to their lack of educational opportunity, 
rather than to inherent incapacity. Actuated by 
that conviction Berliner in 1908, with the coopera- 
tion of the American Association of University 
Women, founded ''The Sarah Berliner Research 
Fellowship." It was established in memory of the 
inventor's mother, a woman of parts, who, of course, 
had not had a college education herself — women in 
those days, neither in Germany nor in America, 
even having been admitted to university courses — 
but a woman who was decidedly intellectual in her 

It was largely at the instigation of Mrs. Chris- 
tine Ladd Franklin, wife of Fabian Franklin, and 
one of the first women to complete the work required 
for the doctor's degree at Johns Hopkins Univer- 
sity, that Emile Berliner was induced to found the 
Fellowship. It is open to all American women hold- 
ing the degree of Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of 
Science, who give promise of distinction in the sub- 
ject to which they are devoting themselves. The 
Fellowship is available for research in physics, 
chemistry or biology. The committee on fellowships 
of the Association of University Women is the com- 


mittee on awards. The university women in charge 
of the Sarah Berliner Fund give explicit recognition 
to those candidates for the award, who can carry on 
research and at the same time might have the privi- 
lege of giving one or more courses of lectures at 
some university or other institution of learning. 
The value of the Fellowship is more than twelve 
hundred dollars a year. 

Professor Agnes L. Rogers, of the department of 
education at Bryn Mawr College, who is now chair- 
man of the Committee on Fellowships of the Amer- 
ican Association of University Women, says : 

*'Mr. Berliner's foundation was one of the first, 
if not the first, fellowships for women in the United 
States and the very first designated for work in 
science. As it has always been the largest fellow- 
ship for women in this country until 1926, when the 
Guggenheim Fellowships were founded, amounting 
to twenty-five hundred dollars each, the women who 
have held the Berliner Fellowship have been very 
distinguished. It has bound to our Association of 
University Women some of the leaders among re- 
search workers in this country, and we are exceed- 
ingly proud of what we have been able to accomplish 
through Mr. Berliner's vision and generosity. 

*'It should be remembered that Mr. Berliner 
made this fellowship available when woman's posi- 
tion in colleges and universities was far from being 
so assured as now, and when their power to conduct 
research in any field was questioned. His faith has, 



I believe, through the Sarah Berliner Fellowship, 
encouraged many -women to high endeavor and has 
enheartened them to pursue their interest in science 
in spite of an atmosphere of what was as recently as 
eighteen years ago almost universal discourage- 

Berliner, of course, is radiantly optimistic with 
regard to the future possibilities of the inventions 
■svith which his name is indissolubly linked — the tele- 
phone, the gramophone and radio. Literally, he con- 
siders those possibilities illimitable, and progress in 
their realization, Berliner predicts will be rapid be- 
yond all popular expectation 

The Bell Telephone System in 1926 had to in- 
crease its share capitalization to one billion one 
hundred million dollars — making it the largest cor- 
poration in the world — to keep pace with the in- 
creased growth of telephony. 

*SAiiAH Beslesee Eeseaech axd Lectuke Fellowship 

Tear Recipient of Award 


1909 Caroline McGill 

1911 Edna Carter 

1912 Gertrude Rand 

1913 Elizabeth R. Laird 

1914 Ethel X. Bro-svne 

1915 Janet T. Howell 

1916 Mildred West Loring 

1917 Carlotta J. Maurj 
(Marjorie O'Donnell 

1918 ^Cornelia Kennedy 

1919 Olive Swezy 

1920 Mrs. Helene Connet WilsomBaltimore 

1921 Francis G. Wick Various Collegea 

1922 Ruth B. Holland Various Colleges 

1923 Helen C. Coombs Yonkers 

1924 LeoHora Neuffer Cincinnati 

1925 Hope Hibbard Various CoDegea 

1926 Helen Downes Various Collegea 



Brm Mawr 

Mt. Holyoke 


Brrn Mawr 

Johns Hopkins 


New York 




C Geology 
I Nutrition 
Physics, himina 


It was only in 1926, too, that the medical world 
was electrified by news head-lined in the metropoli- 
tan journals of the country as follows: '* Talking 
Machine Disks Trap Heart Beats." Then it was 
narrated that for the first time in the history of 
medical science the sound of heart heats ivas, re- 
corded on talking-machine records and reproduced 
for a class of physicians. A hundred doctors from 
all parts of the United States and from Canada 
gathered at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 
Boston on June eighth and listened simultaneously 
through individual stethoscopes to heart beats en- 
graved on talking-machine records. The sounds 
were recorded and reproduced in so minute detail 
that they served for study in diagnosis. The inven- 
tion is expected to be of far-reaching significance to 
both the medical profession and the general public. 
The recording and reproducing devices were devel- 
oped by Doctor Richard C. Cabot, of Boston, noted 
physician and educator, and Doctor Clarence Gam- 
ble, of Philadelphia, and the results cro^vn eighteen 
years of study and experimentation. 

Radio, in Berliner's judgment, will revolutionize 
the future art of oratory. It will divest public 
speaking of the purely flamboyant and clothe it mth 
a dignity born not so much of emotion-stirring elo- 
quence as of conviction-carrjdng statement of fact 
and presentation of argument. 

*'My views on this score," says Berliner, ''were 
put more forcefully than I could express them wheq 


Vice-President Dawes spoke at Washington on June 
4, 1926, at the 'finals' of the third national oratorical 
contest of the high school children of the United 

** 'The radio,' Mr. Dawes pointed out, 'has inter- 
posed itself between the orator and our largest 
crowds — crowds which run into millions in num- 
ber — while the exceptional human voice unaided by 
this device can make itself heard at best by only from 
five to twenty thousand people. But a fact of immense 
significance is that each man of the larger number 
listening to an orator over the radio listens as an in- 
dividual thinking man and not as one of an impres- 
sionable crowd. As scientists have pointed out, when 
a gathering of people is in the physical presence of 
an orator and under the spell of his eloquence and 
personal magnetism, the emotions can be so aroused 
as not only to interfere with individual mental 
activity, but at times absolutely to destroy it. The 
amalgamation of people into crowds seems to create 
a living organism possessing a definite character 
and definite mental attributes, one of which is the 
almost total lack of reasoning power. All this means 
that instead of reaching the mind through the emo- 
tions, a man speaking over the radio must reach the 
emotions through the mind, if he is to reach them 
at all. It means that the orator of the future, to hold 
and impress his audience, must largely abandon ap- 
peal to emotion and confine himself to reason forci- 
bly expressed and logically arranged. It means 


inevitably that the oratory of the future is to he the 
oratory of condensed reason, as distinguished from 
demagoguery with its appeals to prejudice and emo- 
tion., This fact is fraught with tremendous sig- 
nificance to the future public welfare.' " 

For whatever good fortune has come to Emile 
Berliner in a life of constructive contribution to 
civilization, he gives devout and humble thanks to 
the spirit of America. In our land of untrammeled 
opportunity he found himself. From out of its 
boundless possibilities, with a confidence born of his 
own experience, he foreshadows that still greater 
things will come for the enrichment not only of the 
country of his adoption, but for the world which it 

In honor of a friend, who was celebrating a sev- 
entieth birthday anniversary, Emile Berliner, con- 
templating the inevitable fate of mortals, once drew 
a fantastic picture of the eventide of men and 
women who have played worthily the roles assigned 
them on Life's fitful stage. He wrote this finale: 

**And when the end cometh they shall walk down 
a flower-bedecked slope and meet the smiling old 
ferryman at the foot of the hill who will beckon them 
to follow him to the blissful abodes, where dwell the 
serene and gentle souls that preceded them, into the 
realms of peace, to the glades where fairies sing 
enchanting melodies, into a world of sunlit golden 


''There they shall listen to the music of the 
spheres filling all with their bewitching harmonies. 
Time has lost its measure and its meaning, space is 
pierced by the spiritual eye. 

*'And, beholding a world of splendor and of 
glories, from the watch towers of eternity, glisten- 
ing in the tremulous rays of celestial fires, they shall 
hear the far cry of a venerable Muezzin : 

" 'Peace he with you, fighting is, over, and all is 
well!' " 





Filed in the United States Patent Office, April 14, 1877_ 


PART I. The following is a description of my 
newly-invented apparatus for transmitting 
sound of any kind by means of a wire or any other 
conductor of electricity, to any distance. 

It is a fact and a scientific principle that objects 
near each other which are charged with electricity 
of the same polarity repel each other. It is also a 
fact that if at a point of contact between two ends 
of a galvanic current, the pressure between both 
sides of the contact becomes weakened, the current 
passing becomes less intense, as, for instance, if an 
operator on a Morse instrument does not press down 
the key with a certain firmness, the sounder at the 
receiving instrument does work much weaker than if 

*See page 90. 



the full pressure of the hand would have been used. 
Based on these two facts I have constructed a sim- 
ple apparatus for transmitting sound along a line 
of a galvanic current in the following manner: 

Part II. In the drawing accompanying this 
caveat B is a metal plate well fastened to the wooden 
box or frame A, but able to vibrate if sound is 
uttered against it or in the neighborhood of said 
plate. Against the plate, and touching it, is the 
metal ball C, which rests on the bar or stand F and 
presses against the plate, which pressure however 
can be regulated by the thumb-screw D attached to 
the ball. By making the plate vibrate the pressure 
at the point of contact A becomes weaker or 
stronger as often as vibrations occur and according 
to which side of the plate the sound comes from. 

Part III. If a current of electricity passes 
through the plate and the point of contact or vice 
versa, a repulsive movement mil take place be- 
tween the plate and the ball because both are 
charged with the same kind of electricity. This 
force of repulsion may be weakened or strengthened 
by varying the strength of the current. 

Part IV. By placing now, as in the drawing is 
shown, one such instrument in the station fig. 1 and 
another instrument in the station fig. 2 both situ- 
ated on the same voltaic current (as shown by the 
wire connections following the arrows), sound ut- 
tered against the plate of the instrument fig. I will 
be reproduced by the plate of the instrument fig. 2 ; 


for as the vibrations of the transmitter fig.l caused 
by the sound will alternately weaken and strengthen 
the current as many times as vibrations occur, so mil 
also the force of repulsion at the point in the receiver 
be alternately weakened and strengthened as many 
times accordingly and mil therefore cause the plate 
to vibrate at the same rate and measure. The latter 
vibrations being communicated to the surrounding 
air, the same kind of sound as uttered against the 
transmitter fig. 1 will be reproduced at the receiver 
fig. 2, or in as many other receiving instruments as 
are situated within the same voltaic circuit. 

Part V. It is not material that the plate should 
be of metal; same can be of any material able to 
vibrate if only at the point of contact suitable ar- 
rangement is made so that the current passes 
through that point. The plate may be of any shape 
or size and may be substituted by a wire. The ball 
too may be substituted by any other metallic point, 
surface, wire, etc. There may be more than one 
point of contact becoming affected by the same vi- 
brations, and either side or both may vibrate, al- 
though it is preferable that only one side should 

Part "VT. If the uttered sound is so strong that 
its vibrations will cause a breaking of the current 
at the point or points of contact in the transmitter, 
then the result at the receiving instruments will be 
a tone much louder but not as distinct in regard to 


Part VII. What I claim to have invented is, — 

1, An instrument situated within an electric 
circuit having two or more ends of the current 
brought in contact with each other, which points of 
contact can be loosened or tightened by vibrating 
one or both sides of each contact, thus diminishing 
and increasing the amount of electricity passing 
through the contacts as many times as vibrations 

2, An instrument like this one described situ- 
ated within a voltaic circuit and having two or more 
ends of this circuit brought in contact with each 
other, at which point or points of contact exists a 
force of repulsion, caused by equal polarity, which 
force can be increased or decreased by increasing 
or decreasing the strength of the current passing 
through the points of contact. 

3. An apparatus consisting of a metal plate able 
to vibrate in contact with a metal ball, each of 
which within the same voltaic or galvanic circuit, so 
that if, by vibrating the plate, the pressure at the 
point of contact gets loosened or tightened, the 
amount of electricity passing in the current is dimin- 
ished or increased, as described. 

4. Same instrument to be used as a transmitter 
of sound-waves, by uttering sound against or in the 
neighborhood of the said plate or its mechanical 
equivalent, thus vibrating the plate and diminish- 
ing the amount of electricity passing as many times 
and as much as the vibrations will loosen the pre^r 
sure of contact, as described. 


5. Such a similar apparatus to be used as a re- 
ceiver or reproducer of sound-waves by allowing an 
electric current consisting of waves which are pro- 
duced as described in Claim No. 4 to pass through 
the point of contact thus increasing or decreasing 
the force of repulsion already existing between the 
plate and the ball at the contact when a current is 
passing. The plate therefore being thrown into vi- 
brations as many times and with an intensity in ac- 
cordance with the number of waves and their intens- 
ity, the air surrounding the receiving plates will 
also be vibrated and reproduce a sound similar to 
the one uttered in the transmitting instrument, as 

6. A combination of two or more of such instru- 
ments situated on the same voltaic circuit or current 
of electricity so that if one plate is vibrated all the 
others will vibrate at the same rate and measure, 
as described. 

7. A system of telephony for the purpose of 
transmitting sounds to any distance by means of a 
wire or other conductor of electricity, as described. 



[Prepared far the Archives of the American Telephone 
and Telegraph Company] 

IX Xovember, 1878, I left "Washington and pro- 
ceeded to Xew York, where the BeU Telephone 
Company had temporary headquarters at Xos. 66 
and 68 Eeade Street, sharing a loft ^vith the Edison 
Phonograph Company. The personnel of our com- 
pany there consisted of Mr. Vail, Mr. Devonshire 
and myself. Mr. "Watson, Mr. Thomas Sanders, the 
Treasurer of the Company, also Mr. Hubbard, 
would occasionally come down from Boston to con- 
fer with Mr. Vail. 

Mr. Francis Blake, Jr., who had invented an 
ingenius modification of the loose contact trans- 
mitter, was at work in Boston trying to put his 
transmitter into practical commercial form, but he 
was hampered in his work by an increasing nerv- 
ousness and he soon afterward retired to his country 
place, near Xewton, where he had fitted up a com- 
plete shop and laboratory for the pursuit of scien- 
tific research. 



On January 31, 1879, the BeU Company gave up 
the office on Eeade Street and we all proceeded to 
Boston. I was requested to take up the perfecting 
of the Blake transmitter, and the facilities in the 
shops of Mr. Charles Williams, Jr., who at that time 
manufactured our instruments, were placed at my 
disposal. Mr. W. L. Eichards was assigned to me 
as assistant and a very small room had been boarded 
off on the office floor to serve as a testing station. 

The status of the Blake transmitter, when I took 
hold of it, was briefly, that they could not make 
twelve transmitters alike good and when these were 
adjusted at night they were out of adjustment the 
next morning. Besides this circumstance the qual- 
ity of transmission was likely to be ''boomy" and 
the transmitter had to be spoken into with care in 
order that speech be universally well understood 
at the receiving end. In fact, it took a trained man, 
one who could judge the transmission by his own 
receiver, to make commercial talking possible. Such 
a transmitter could not be sent out for use by tele- 
phone subscribers and for a time during 1879 large 
magneto box telephones, screwed against the wall, 
continued to be used as transmitters in our tele- 
phone service. 

The first thing which I discovered was that the 
platinum bead which formed one contact electrode 
in the Blake transmitter would, when vibrated by 
the voice, quickly dig a small cavity into the carbon 
button which formed the other contact electrode, I 


proceeded to study the electric-arc light carbon rods 
from which the buttons were cut. They came from 
Wallace and Sons, of Ansonia, Connecticut, and 
were of a beautiful even grain, but soft in quality. 
We asked one of the Wallace firm to come and see 
us, and I questioned him if they could not furnish 
us with carbon rods of a hard quality. He said that 
it would mean longer baking and this would cause 
cracks and fissures to develop all through the rods. 
Success in that direction, therefore, appeared to be 
doomed to failure. 

It then occurred to me that inasmuch as a very 
hard and dense gas carbon formed in city gas retorts 
on the inner walls, by slow deposition, why couldn 't 
we have such deposits formed on our soft carbon 
buttons after they had been cut and finished. It did 
not take long to design and have made a small cage 
of steel rods which were far enough apart to permit 
a free access to any gas but close enough to prevent 
the carbon buttons from dropping out of the cage. 
Several dozen of carbon buttons were placed in the 
cage and, with an introduction to the superintendent 
of the Boston Gas Works, I proceeded to their plant. 
I was told that city gas was made in ** charges" of 
four hours each, after which the residual coke was 
removed and a fresh charge of coal put into the 
retort. I was also told that the gas was the densest 
on the top of the coal charge. I requested that my 
little cage should be placed on the top of the coal 
during three consecutive charges and that I would 


send for it the following day. When I received the 
cage and opened it I found my carbon buttons all 
shriveled up by heat, and instead of a nice, smooth 
and hard carbon coating, they had a porous and 
rough appearance; it looked like failure. But I 
rubbed one of the shriveled buttons on a piece of 
emery cloth and, after rubbing off the spongy outer 
coating, I suddenly found the carbon so hard that 
the emery would not touch it. I quickly concluded 
that what had happened was that the gas in the 
retort had penetrated the carbon buttons while they 
were red-hot and thereby had hardened them, and 
that herein I w^ould find the solution of the trouble 
with the carbon electrodes. A larger and stronger 
cage was made, several hundred fresh carbon but- 
tons were placed in it and the cage was sent to the 
gas works with the request that it be placed in the 
retort for one charge only and be put lower down 
into the mass of fresh coal. My surmise was found 
to be correct. The surfaces of these carbon buttons 
were barely injured and when received were in fine 
hard shape, ready to be polished after they had been 
put into their brass casings. 

That process remained the standard method of 
treating the carbon buttons as long as Blake trans- 
mitters were manufactured. 

My next problem was to purify the sound of the 
transmission and to prevent the ''boomy" quality. 

The transmitter diaphragm was at that time held 
in position by two curved steel springs opposite each 


other and pressing the loose rubber rimmed dia- 
phragm against the iron casting which formed the 
frame that held the transmitter parts. I f omid that 
by removing one of the springs and substituting 
for it a small clip which pressed against the soft 
rubber rim at the edge of the diaphragm the sound 
was improved. Furthermore, by reducing the curv- 
ature of the other spring the transmission became 
entirely pure. As a final step I straightened the two 
small springs which held the carbon and the plati- 
num electrodes so that these springs were parallel 
wdth the diaphragm. 

After reporting that the Blake transmitter had 
been perfected, orders were given that two hundred 
transmitters a day should be made for us. These 
were tested by myself and Mr. Richards and, once 
adjusted, they remained in first-class working order. 
I personally tested the first twenty thousand trans- 
mitters and then turned this branch of the instru- 
ments over to Mr. Richards. I devoted myself there- 
after to research work and helped Professor 
Charles R. Cross, of the Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology, in the exhaustive experiments which 
he made for Mr. Storrow to support the latter 's 
legal work in the defense of our patents and in our 
attacks against infringers. 

The perfected Blake transmitter proved to be 
vastly superior to the Edison compressed lampblack 
button transmitter, which the Gold and Stock Tele- 
graph Company put out for use by its subscribers. 


And this, I believe, was an important factor and 
helped the Bell Company to defeat the Western 
Union Telegraph Company, bringing the latter to 
terms which ended the costly telephone fight be- 
tween the two corporations. It insured to the Bell 
Company the telephone monopoly. 



N THE occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday 
(May 20, 1925) we, the colleagues of Emile 
Berliner on the Board of Directors of the Associa- 
tion for the Prevention of Tuberculosis of the Dis- 
trict of Columbia, in monthly session assembled, 
wish to offer our felicitations to Mr. Berliner upon 
his attainment of threescore and fifteen years. 

We rejoice in his full possession of the rare gift 
of mental and physical vigor which he has sought to 
bring to others, especially the younger generation. 

As a constant observer of the Association's 
twelve Health Rules, which he was so largely instru- 
mental in having drafted, Mr. Berliner is particu- 
larly an exemplar to all of us in the practise of the 
precept twelve, '' Cultivate cheerfulness and kindli- 
ness, it will help you to resist disease." Surely, if 
that is the secret of Mr. Berliner's "Mens Sana in 
Corpore Sano," we shall msh to thank him for 
shomng us the way of eternal youth. 

No one but the Recording Angel ^^^ll ever know 
the number of infant and child lives saved in this 
community by Mr. Berliner's tireless efforts to ob- 
tain for Washington a safe commercial milk supply. 



Ever since 1901 and before the movement against 
tuberculosis was organized, as we know it to-day, 
Mr. Berliner in season and out of season has 
preached the danger of raw milk, especially in the 
feeding of infants and invalids. After a quarter 
of a century of such efforts, Mr. Berliner had the 
satisfaction of seeing Congress clothe the health 
officer with power to regulate milk standards in the 
District of Columbia, a policy which he so long and 
untiringly advocated. 

Mr. Berliner's interest in health education and 
his belief in the value of publicity and reiteration 
of health precepts in the public press and through 
the printed page are too well-known to his colleagues 
of this Association to call for extended remarks. In 
the minutes of the monthly meetings of the Board of 
Directors the reports of the Chairman of the Com- 
mittee on Publications bear permanent testimony to 
Mr. Berliner's efforts to spread the gospel of posi- 
tive health. 

"We, the directors of this Association, congratu- 
late ourselves upon having had as our president 
from 1917 to 1922, and as a charter member of the 
Association, Emile Berliner, whose inventions have 
brought happiness and satisfaction to countless 
thousands, as well as honor, fame and world-wide 
recognition to himself from fellow-scientists ; a man 
whose devotion to public health and public welfare 
has not been second in interest to his scientific 


RESOLVED : That a copy of this tribute be 
placed upon the permanent records of the Associa- 
tion for the Prevention of Tuberculosis of the Dis- 
trict of Columbia and an engrossed copy be pre- 
sented to Mr. Berliner with the assurance of the 
esteem and affection of his colleagues of the Board 
of Directors of the Association. 

George M. Kober, M. D. 

Walter S. Ufford 
Seal Secretary 

May 10, 1926 



How a Love Kiss May Be a Death Kiss 


MONG my acquaintances is a young couple, 
who, at the time of the occurrence which I 
will relate, had a beautiful five-months-old boy baby, 
well developed physically, and particularly bright 
and winsome. One day the child appeared to have 
caught a catarrhal cold. The next day it developed 
a fever temperature, pneumonia set in, and on the 
following morning the child died. 

With the sadness of the event on my mind, I at- 
tempted to find out, if possible, where the child 
caught the infection that killed it. From the father 
I learned that the apartment in which they lived was 
cleaned with vacuum cleaners, that their rooms were 
swept with cai^pet sweepers, that they were careful 
at all times to have good ventilation, and that watch- 
ful intelligence prevailed in their home in order to 
have it sanitary and well lighted. 

During the funeral, which I attended, I heard 
the mother of the child repeatedly cough in a way 



which indicated that she had a bad bronchial affec- 
tion, and when the carriages had returned it oc- 
curred to me to ask the father if, to his knowledge, 
the child had ever been kissed on the mouth by any- 
body. He said no, that they never had allowed any- 
body to kiss the baby, and only Katherine, the 
mother, occasionally had kissed it, and then, of 
course, on the mouth. 

Needless to say, I forbade the father ever to 
tell his wife that I had questioned him, but I warned 
him that if there should be another child that he 
should see to it that no one, not even the mother, 
should ever kiss it on the mouth. I explained to him 
how such a kiss on the lips of a child, with its deli- 
cate mucous membranes and its low resistance to 
disease, might easily set up and develop an infection 
of dangerous proportion, even though the patho- 
genic or disease germs that could produce infection 
in a child might in the mouth of a healthy adult 
remain harmless. 

It was the late General George M. Sternberg, for 
a number of years surgeon-general of the United 
States Army and a scientist of great distinction and 
repute, who first discovered germs of pneumonia in 
the sputum of a great many adults who were other- 
wise in perfect health. He found the germ (known 
as the pneumo-coccus) even in his o^^^l mouth, and 
also other germs, resting latent and mthout danger, 
but ready to set up serious infections should the 
carrier of the germs have had his natural resis- 


tance to disease lowered. Such a state might be 
brought about by various hygienic omissions, by the 
continuous breathing of bad air, by the continuous 
partaking of impure food, notably raw milk and 
cream; by excesses of all kinds, by morbid thoughts 
and by lack of cheer and kindliness. 

When body resistance is thus lowered, path- 
ogenic or disease-producing germs may rapidly 
multiply in the highly favorable en^'ironments of 
the warm inner mouth, or oral cavity, and invade the 
human organism, causing disease. That is the ac- 
cepted theory of general infection. Even of greater 
import than the disease germ itself is the ready soil 
on which it may grow and multiply. This is what 
we must guard against, and progressive and specific 
hygiene teaches us how to do so. 

The warning which the above occurrence carries 
need not unduly alarm healthy adults, nor young 
lovers mth their splendid vitality, nor members of 
families in good condition of health. It need not 
necessarily impugn the safety of all demonstrations 
of deep affection betw^een humankind. 

But it does most strongly apply to children, who, 
on account of their frailness of bodies and the deli- 
cate kind of tissue forming their mucous mem- 
branes, are very sensitive to infection. It also 
applies to those adults who are for a time in an un- 
dermined condition of health, in a state of lessened 
resistance to disease, which happens now and then 
in every one's life. 

Former Surgeon-General Doctor Eupert Blue 


told me at the time of the last influenza epidemic 
that he gargled twice a day with a good antiseptic 
solution in order to destroy such pathogenic germs 
as might have got and lodged in his mouth or throat. 
He said that if this was done by everybody at reg- 
ular intervals a large amount of preventable disease 
would be nipped in the bud before endangering 

There are many antiseptic solutions to be had, 
some of which are more or less eflflcacious in destroy- 
ing disease germs. And recently a pathological 
laboratory in Washington tested a solution made, 
according to my doctor's prescription, as follows: 

Menthol 4 grains 

Alcohol 1 ounce 

Sod. Bicarb 30 grains 

Sod. Borate 30 grains 

Dist. water 8 ounces 

Filter if necessary. 

It was found to be a true and rather high-grade 
germicide. This solution, which can be had from 
any druggist, is cheap, and I personally have found 
it most efficacious as a gargle or a spray for many 
j'ears. Even when diluted v*dth water in fifty-fifty 
proportion, it mil, when promptly applied several 
times at short intervals, break up a fresh sore 
throat or it will correct an infected or badly tasting 
mouth, provided the cause is not in the teeth or in 
the stomach. 


In times of sore-throat epidemics, or of diseases 
that develop in the mouth, or oral cavity, like diph- 
theria or pneumonia, or when such a disease has 
entered the household, it would be well advised to 
use an antiseptic mouth wash as a spray or a deep 
gargle twice or three times a day. 

Children are so sensitive to infection that rooms 
in which a death occurred from any infectious dis- 
ease should always be promptly disinfected, pre- 
ferably by a trained employee of the health office. 



By Emile Berliner, Tresident of the Berliner Gramophone 
Company, Limited, Montreal 


THE scientific side of music which you desire 
me to deal with, is a large enough subject to 
fill a good-sized book, rather than a single news- 
paper column. Music is rhythmic sound, air pulses 
occurring at regular intervals and at a rate of not 
less than sixteen vibrations per second and not more 
than about sixteen thousand vibrations per second, 
which, in a fair way, represents the limits within 
which an average musical ear can differentiate be- 
tween two tones having different rates of vibrations 
or different pitch. 

When several musical tones of different pitch 
sound together, their vibrations or waves overlap, 
and form compound waves, so that at one instant 
a fraction of one set of waves predominates, in the 
next instant a fraction of another set. As these 
different fractions follow one another at a very 
rapid rate, between sixteen and, say, sixteen thou- 



sand per second, we receive the sensation of a chord, 
or of a single mass of sound, either of harmony or 

This is similar to the manner in which the eye 
receives a motion picture, by the rapid projection of 
several progressive photographs of a moving object. 
Even if we listen to a whole orchestra, with or with- 
out the addition of singing, the ear at one instant 
only takes notice of that fraction of the performance 
which happens at that moment to predominate. 

To prove that this is the case we can let sound 
wiite itself down by means of the phonautograph, 
invented by the Frenchman, Leon Scott, about 1856. 

One of these instruments is in the United States 
National Museum. It consists of a large cylinder, 
covered with paper, the surface of which is covered 
with soot from a smoky flame. A sound box, having 
a diaphragm and a receiving horn, is provided mth 
a slender bristle stylus, fastened to the center of the 
diaphragm, and which is so adjusted that the stylus 
just touches the surface of the cylinder sidewise. 
When the cylinder is rotated and passes the stylus 
in screw fashion the latter traces a spiral line 
around the cylinder. 

If now sound is emitted into the horn the spiral 
line becomes waves and each wave represents a frac- 
tion of the sound that caused the diaphragm to vi- 

It will then be found that the higher pitched the 
sound is, the more rapidly do these waves follow one 


another, and as the pitch is lower the fewer are the 
waves in a given time. In the case of an orchestra 
playing, the wave line becomes most complicated, 
yet there is discernible a certain regularity, as sets 
of waves repeat themselves when a more or less sus- 
tained chord is recorded. 

Jazz effects will record themselves in waves 
of striking or irregular forms and so will all mere 
noises which in themselves are not considered 

If we try to analyze the wave lines of articulate 
speech by means of a phonautograph we shall dis- 
cern sets of complicated waves which represent the 
vowel sounds, but most consonants, like r, s, sh, c, 
and s, which are very minute waves, repeating them- 
selves rapidly. 

The tune or melody is due to the inspiration of 
the composer, but the harmony to accompany the 
tune follows strict laws, which, while capable of a 
great variety of modulations, must be kept within 
certain limits, prescribed by the science of harmony. 
The highest musical art is expressed by proper 
orchestration, and the finest compositions are those 
in which the inspiration of a lovely or artistic 
melody proceeds and stands out against the back- 
ground of perfect harmonj^, expressed by skilful 
orchestration. Such is the case for instance in 
so-called grand opera. Besides, we have the works 
of orchestral music itself, with an infinite variety 
of leading melodies, as well as the masterpieces 


of dramatic effects giving the musical background 
by means of which stage action is illuminated 
or by which emotions are expressed. Then there 
are the immortal creations of piano and organ 
music, instrumental and vocal duets, trios, quar- 
tettes and sextettes, and the superb compositions for 
the violin and other solo instruments. Songs of all 
kinds from the simple folk melodies to the great 
church masses and oratories form a rich heritage 
bestowed on us by past geniuses, and which are 
added to without end by living creations of con- 
temporaneous songs and harmonies. 

All these treasures of musical science have dur- 
ing the past twenty years been made more access- 
ible to the great public by the talking machine. In 
this instrument the record is not merely a wave line 
dra^^^l on paper, but is a groove of sound waves in- 
dented, engraved or etched into solid material. The 
sound waves are either represented by the varying 
depths of a straight groove, as in the phonograph 
and graphophone, or by a groove looking like the 
old phonautographic record, of even depth, and 
showing the sound waves as an undulating groove 
waiting. The latter system is that of the Gramo- 
phone or Victrola and is the more perfect of the 
two, so that the great singers and performers prefer 
that their art be recorded by that system. 

Sound is reproduced in talking machines be- 
cause the sound grooves move the stylus connected 
with the center of the diaphragm and the latter is 


vibrated by the sound waves that are embodied in 
the grooves caused by the original sound waves. 

Like engravings for printing, sound records can 
be duplicated without limit by pressing electrotyped 
reverse engravings, called matrices, into a proper 
material under heat and pressure. The material 
usually employed is a special kind of hard black 
sealing wax, so that a disk sound record might often 
be properly called the seal of the human voice. 



An Essay 
(written about 1890 by emile beeuner) 

PEOPLE are apt to look for wonders in the 
sphere of the supernatural, in the narrative 
of the Holy Scriptures, in the fables of antiquity, 
and in the seances of so-called spiritualism, but by 
far the greatest wonders are every-day occurrences 
and lie around in innumerable forms in our im- 
mediate neighborhood. Let me cite a few. 

Here is a piece of glass. It is of so dense a mate- 
rial that the most rarified gases, which would easily 
pass through a block of brass or steel, can be held 
forever within a bulb of glass, the walls of which 
are less than a hundredth of an inch thick. Yet all 
the vibrations of light emanating from the various 
objects of a landscape will pass unobstructed 
through a pane several inches thick, permitting the 
picture to be accurately represented on the retina of 
our eye, and even a block of several feet thickness 
would still permit a fair view through it of the forms 
and colors behind. 



TuVci a rna/i^net and a inouiiicid iioo(ll(» of iron, put 
l)(!ivv(!(;ii bolli a ^ViimU) l)loc;k W(!igliin,i^ H(!Voral toiiH, 
and jlio iKH'dlc! will Kl.ili olx'-y IIk; nioliori of ilio mag- 
JKil, jnsl as ir IIk; granllu 1)I()('I< did iiol, cxiHi. 

Vou Tnay pass an ch'clrict cnnciii stron,;:,' (M)ou^Ii 
to kill by Hhock a dozen ox(vn at once, or to nut in mo- 
tion Tna(diin(!ry ro[)r(!H(!niing- a tlion.sand,liorHO[)ow(ir, 
tliron/^1) a small bar of copixu'; ])nt this vory bar of 
('()pj)cr will nol, allcr if,s vv('i.i;lii vvliib* llu^ cnrrciii is 
I)asHin^, nor- show any onlwjifd indicalion \vliai(!V(!r 
of tlie trmriundouH forco [)nlsal,injL^ tlii-oiigb ii. 

A piox'Ci of musk may ((xliab; its i;cn<!tratinjL^ odor 
in a larji;'(! liall with ofx'n windows for ton yoarfl, 
l)nl, ii would rccpiirc a, vciy ddicfito babiiicf to j)i-ov(^ 
that it iiiis lost in wci.i^ht from (In^ ('Xp('nditni'(i of so 
much odoiifcrons cncr.^y. 

A violin is pcrfcclly tuned ])y Hk; liJii'Uiony re- 
Kullinij;' from owe loius and tiu! fil'lli following on tlio 
rnj;'ular scnlc, bid, if a, |»i;ino would be tuned on IIk; 
Siirui^ piineiple, i. c, lli;it every (il'lli lone would 
m;il((; a perfect liarinony with IIk; first, IIh; piano, 
(!V(!n if pl.'iyed l)y a iJ.nbinstiiin or a Liszt, would 
give out such fe;irful <liseords UH to drivo aw/iy tlio 
cats boyond he.-irin.ii; distiineo. 

A s(|n;ii-e mid a. eireh; ar(! each a most perf<M't 
geometrical foi'm (iiidowed with wonderful possibil- 
iticH in tlie hands of a skilb'd ma<hem;dici;in, yo\ it 
IH imi)ossi])l(! mathematically to calculate! fi'om a cii'- 
ele ;i s(|nai(' wliich would rei)reH(Mit the huuw. snri'iice 
of area as the ciicle, or vic(r versn. The assutne<l 
diameter of a circle always lacks a fraction. 

AnMONni(i*:s 'm\:^ 

At a distance of sovornl miles lot iis place a iiuni- 
bor of candles, (lie (allow of wliicli lias been uiixed 
oacli with a dKTeront subslanco, for instance, salt, 
iron dust, potasaiutn, uKim-, ric. There will be ap- 
parcndy no did'erenco in the kind or anionnt of light 
sliown by each candle, nor wonld a powerl'nl (elo- 
st'ope reveal such, bu(. upon loekini;- at (he ilauies 
widi a small triangular block of glass called a prism, 
and which is sui(id)Iy nionnled, \v(> can a( once de- 
tormino what snbstance has been mixed with each 
slii'k o\' (idlow. Based nj)on (his wonder we are able 
(() deierniintf the composition of bnrning stars many 
bilhons of mih's away. 

If a wiri> be stretched five tinu\s aronnd (he ejirdi, 
an electric current would traverse it in one stu-ond, 
and a. person kilh'd by lightning hasn'( (inu» enough 
left to see the (lash. 

A pu(T of air not strong enough (o exdngtiish a 
c;nidl(> Maine, when slowly blown across the nionlli 
of a glass bodle will pi'odncc a. (one lond enongli lo 
be heard several hundred feel ; and a( (^-ibin .John's 
l^ridge, near Washinglon, a, sof( whisper will (ravt^l 
from end (o end under (he arch which s(re(ches 
about (wo hundred and lifiy feel, nnd is sex'enty-fivo 
f(M'(, high. !( seems Incredible llial a whisper wouhl 
have (hat nuich pene(ra(ing power. 

The laws of graviialion an^ so ])(>rfe('(, (lia( lh(\v 
cnabl(Ml Leverrier to i)redict (Ik^ discovery, ;md 
poini out (he exnci i)osilion in Ihe heavens, of (ho 
l)lai'et Neptune, which was found (her(> a few days 


later, and which is two billion, six hundred million 
miles away from the sun. 

The power of the brain to recall by memory the 
impressions received by us years ago is beyond 
doubt one of the greatest wonders, and is likely 
forever to remain an unfathomable myster^^ 

The heart beats forty million times in a year, 
and the lungs inhale seven hundred thousand gallons 
of air in the same period, and all this and a great 
many other functions of the human body, one more 
elaborate that the other, continue without undue 
friction and disturbance — unless it be 'hy our own 
trespasses — for seventy years, and all that is re- 
quired for us to do is to eat and drink the good 
things of earth; for the rest of the organs of the 
body take care of themselves. 

Thus, and through countless other wonders, by 
teaching humility to its disciples, Science assumes 
the role of a most potent religion. 




"acoustic tiles" of Berliner, 

Berliner 's present work in con- 
nection -with, 273 
Addresses of Berliner 

American Institute of Archi- 
tects, 277 
Electro-Technical Society of 

Berlin, 204-209 
Franklin Institute, 45, 171, 

193, 195, 199 
Technical Society of Frank- 

fort-on-the-Main, 215 
Technical Society of Hanover, 
Adler Cora 

marriage to Berliner, 109-110, 
Air brake invented, 42 
Alcantara, Emperor Dom Pedro 
de and Empress Theresa, 63 

at beginning of second century 

of independence, 42 
immigration from Germany, 13 
American Association of Univer- 
sity Women 
Sarah Berliner Research Fel- 
lowship, 302, 304 
American Bell Telephone Com- 
see, Telephone systems 

American Graphophone Company, 

American Institute of Architects 

Berliner's address, 277 
American Pediatric Society, 238, 

American Speaking Telephone 
subsidiary of Western Union, 
American Telephone and Tele- 
graph Company 
see, Telephone systems 

acoustic qualities, 273 
Arthur, Chester 

Washington at time of his 
administration, 183 
Associated Charities 

Committee on Tuberculosis, 242 

Association for the Prevention 

of Tuberculosis, 242, 246, 


Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph 

Company, 104 
Atlantic cable laid, 54 

Barker, George F. (Professor), 

Barraud, Francis 

and "Xipper, " 225 
Bayreuth, theater in 

acoustic qualities, 284 




Behrend, B. J., 40 
Belknap, William W., 

resignation as secretary of 
war, 24 
Bell, Alexander Graham 

experiments "with human ear, 
• 57 

marriage, 56 
patents of, pending, 109 
telephone invented, 44, 46, 51, 

55, 57 
Volta Prize award, 180 
Bell, Chichester A., 

Bell-Tainter graphophone, 181 
Bell family, 56 

Bell-Tainter graphophone, 181 
Bell Telephone Company of 
Boston, 105 
see also, Telephone systems 
interest in Berliner 's invention, 
Bell Telephone Securities Com- 
pany, 49 
Bell Telephone system 

see, Telephone systems 
Berlin University, 1 
Berliner, Alice, 235-236 
Berliner, Emile 

see also, Address of Berliner 
acoustic studies, 273 
affiliation with Bell system, 

113, 117 
Americanization begun, 28 
birthplace at Hanover, 2 
characteristics at seventy-five, 

272, 288, 295 
child health studies, 235-236 
children of, 296 
citizenship, 184 

first papers taken out, 41, 67 
clerkship in Hanover, 8 

Berliner, Emile, con't. 
date of birth, 1 
departure for America, 17 
Elliott Cresson award, 194 
essays, 328, 333 
financial status in 1877, 89 
first job, as printer's devil, 10 

Edison-Berliner ' ' Competi- 
tion," 206-211 
introduced into Germany, 

inventions, 168 

application filed, 185 
health rules, 295 
introduction to G. G. Gardiner, 

inventive tendencies, 11, 67 
marriage, 109-110, 166 
member of New York Oratorio 

Society, 218 
caveat, 166-167 

Bell system control of, 117 
filed, 88, 97, 125 
text of, 309 
invention of, recognized by 

Supreme Court, 154 
patent application, 97 
patent received, 140 
microphonic principle discover- 
ed, 75, 80 

composer of, 218 
early love of, 7 
New York 

decision to live in, 31, 37 
physical breakdo^vn 
in 1878, 119 
in 1879, 157 



Berliner, Emile, con't. 
pro-Ally sympathies, 292 
public health work, 234 
salesmanship, 36 
Sarah Berliner Research Fel- 
lowship, 302 
schooling, 8, 9, 288 
telephone, work on, 52, 72 

infirmary endowed by, 249 
tribute paid by Association 
for, 320 
violins, study of structure, 219 
visions of the future, 301 
visit to Germany in 1881, 162 
von Helmholtz's visit, 212-215 
Washington, as place of resi- 
dence, 183 
Berliner family, 3 
Berliner Fellowship, 302, 304 
Berliner Gramophone Company, 
changed from 

United States Gramophone 
Company, 221 
changed to 

Victor Talking Machine 
Company, Camden, 220-221 
Victor Talking Machino 
Company of Canada, 223 
Berliner, Jacob 

telephone company formed, 164 
Berliner, Joseph, 161 
Binns, Jack, 261 
Bismarck, Prince Otto von 

unity of Germany under, 7 
Blake, Francis 

transmitter or loose contact 
microphone, 127 
paper in archives of Ameri- 
can Telephone and Tele- 
graph Company, 314 

Blue, Rupert (Doctor), 325 
Boeock, John O., 
author of Romance of the Tele- 
phone, 147 
Bourseuil, Charles 

discoveries in speech trans- 
mission, 175 
early idea of telephone, 52 
Brazilian Emperor and Empress 
at Centennial Exposition, 
Brewer, Justice, 151, 152, 153 
British Gramophone Company, 

see, Radio 
Brown, Frank Howarth, 72 
Bryan, William Jennings 

slogan of 1896, 33 
Buckingham, Doctor D, E., 

Bunsen burner invented, 192 
Burbank, Luther, 294 

Bureau of Health Education, 

Cabin John 's Bridge, 335 
Cabot, Richard C. (Doctor), 305 
Carnegie Peace Endowment 

Slosson's address quoted, 206 
Carty, J. J. (General), 264 
Casson, Herbert N., 57 

author of. History of the Tele- 
phone, 125 
Centennial Exposition at Phila- 
delphia, 42 
Emperor and Empress of 

Brazil present, 63 
telephone exhibited at, 61 
Cheever, Charles A., 104 



Child health 

Berliner 's participation in 
work, 23-i 
publications, 248, 250, 290, 

legend of voice preservation, 

telephone use in, 47 
Civil War 

Eeconstruction period follow- 
ing, 23 
Clark, Alfred, 187 

director of British gramophone 
companr, 224 
Columhian Anthem 

composed by Berliner, 218 
Cooke, Jav 

banking house of, failed, 32 
CooHdge, Calvin 

nasal twang of, broadcasts 
well, 267 
Coolidge, Calvin (Mrs.) 

interest in milk purification, 
Coombs, Charles L. 

Berliner 's patent application 

written by, 98 
called in Bell-Berliner defense, 
Cotton gin invented, 42 
"Crime of 'Seventy- Three, " 32 
Cros, Charles 

speech reproduction, studies of, 
Cross, Charles R. (Professor) 
defender of Bell-Berliner 

patents, 150 
experimental work, 130, 166, 

Damroseh, Leopold, 220 
founder of New York Oratorio 
Society, 218 
Davis, John W., 
Democratic presidential candi- 
date, 267 
Defense Day, 1924 

broadcasting teat, 264 
De Forest, Lee (Doctor) 

Inventor of vacuum tube, 258 
Democratic National Convention 
broadcasting of, in 1924, 266 
Devonshire, E. W., 127 
Dexter, William H. (Doctor), 

Dickerson and Beaman 

attorneys for Telephone Com- 
pany of New York, 103 
Dictaphone, 182 
see also, Gramophone; Grapho- 
phone; Phonograph 
DidasTcalia, The 

"Electrical Telephony," term 
first used by, 53 
Dolbear, Amos E. (Professor) 
association with Western 

Uuiou, 124, 135 
inventions claimed, 137-138 
patents of, pending, 109 
Drawbaugh, Daniel 

telephone invention claimed, 

Edison, Thomas A., 

association with Western 

Union, 124, 135 
device for transmitting voice 

messages, 177 

Edison-Berliner "competi- 
tion," 206-211 



Edison, Thomas A. 
phonograph, con't. 

first, description of, 179 

patent application filed, 96, 

patent pending, 109 
used by Western Union, 115 
Edmunds, Henry, 232 

Guggenheim Fellowships, 303 
Sarah Berliner Kesearch Fel- 
lowship, 302, 30i 
Electric lighting 

first in Washington, 70 

early wave theories, 255 
first cell made by Volta, 180 
loose contacts, action explained, 

transformers, first use with 
microphone, 94 
Electro-Technical Society of 
exhibition of phonograph and 
gramophone, 204 
Elliott Cresson medal 

awarded to Berliner, 194 
Employee ownership 

Bell systems, 49 
Engel, August, 39 
Engel, Carl, 231 
England, see Great Britain 
Ericsson, John 

Monitor invented, 42 

gramophone industry in, 215 

introduction, 161 
present use of, 46 

Fahlberg, Constantine (Doctor) 
Berliner's work with, 37 
saccharin discovered by, 38 
Faraday, Michael, 79 
Financial panic of 1873, 32 
Fischer, Emil 

medal award to, 195 
Fisk, "Jim," 34 
Fowler, W. C. (Doctor), 249 

first telephones, 165 
government o^vnership of tele- 
phone symstems, 48 
Volta Prize award to A. G. 
Bell, 180 
Franklin, Benjamin 

lightning rod invented, 42 
Franklin, Christine Ladd (Mrs.), 

Franklin Institute 

Berliner's address, 45, 171, 

193, 195, 199 
medal awards to 
Berliner, 194 
Fischer, 195 
Eayleigh, 195 
Steinmetz, 195 
Fulton, Eobert 

first steamboat, 42 

Galvani, Luigi, 40 

Gamble, Clarence (Doctor), 305 

Garland, Augustus H., 

counsel of Pan-Electric Com- 
pany, 143 
Gas appliances 

Bunsen burner invented, 192 
George V 

exiled from Hanover, 8 

King of Hanover, 2 



Georgetown University, 235 

immigration to America, 13 

Electro-Technical Society 
exhibition of plionograph 
and gramophone, 204 
government ownership of tele- 
phone systems, 48 

industry in, 215 
introduction, 202 
language defined by Mark 

Twain, 35 
Prussian rule, 14 
pure speech of Hanover, 2 

first, 162, 164 
invention claimed by, 54 
theaters of, 6 

toy manufacturing in, 216 
unity, under Bismarck, 7 
Gifford, George 

Western Union attorney, 135 
Gold and Stock Telegraph Com- 
subsidiary of Western Union, 
130, 135 
Golz, Lieutenant-General, 205 
Goodyear, Charles 

vulcanized rubber made, 42 
Gotthelf, Natlian, 15 
Gould, Jay, 34 
see also, Dictaphone; Grapho- 
phone ; Phonautograph ; 
Phonograph; Talking ma- 
Berliner's inventions, 168 
companies handling, 220-221, 

Gramophone, con't. 
competition, 221 
demonstration at Franklin In- 
stitute, 171, 193, 195, 199 
development, 186, 196 
Edison-Berliner * ' competition ' * 

in Berlin, 206-211 
first discoveries, 175 
"His Master's Voice" and 

"Nipper," 225 
in Germany, 202, 215-216 
patent, application filed, 185 

lateral cut disk, 227 
production of duplicates, 199 
use of rubber composition, 
160, 200 
use in trenches in World War, 
Gramophone Company, Limited, 
187, 188, 223 
munition manufacture during 
World War, 224 
Grant, E. E. (Mrs.), 249, 291 
Grant, Ulysses S., 

presidency, 23, 27 
see also. Dictaphone; Gramo- 
phone; Phonograph 
outgrowth of phonograph, 181 
patented, 181 
Gray, Elisha (Professor) 
association with Western Union 

124, 135 
inventions claimed, 135, 136, 

patents of, pending, 109 
Great Britain 

Barraud, Francis, 225 
government ownership of tele- 
phone systems, 48 



Gramophone Company, Limited 
"His Master's Voice," 225 
World War activities, 224 
Guggenheim Fellowships, 303 

Haber, Fritz 

nitrogen process diseoveries, 
Hammonia, 19, 20 

annexed to Prussia, 7-8 

birthplace of 
Berliner, 2 
Herschel, 3 
von Hindenburg, 3 

George V, King of, 2 

horses, famous breed of, 5 

Institute of Technology, 2 

"King's birthday," 5 

memories of Napoleonic Wars, 
4, 6 

national strife over, 2 

OpernluLus, 6 

pure type of German spoken, 2 

Schiitzenfest celebration, 4 
Harlan, Justice, 154 
Harris, Isham G., 

director of Pan-Electrie Com- 
pany, 143 
Hatch, Wallace, 242 
Hay, John 

description of Washington, 26 
Hays, Rutherford B., 

presidential inauguration, 81 
Health service, public 

Berliner's interest in, 234 
Hecht, Herman, 163, 165 
Henry, Joseph (Professor) 

interest in Berliner 's work, 
100, 120 

Henry, Joseph (Professor), con't. 

recognition of Bell's telephone, 

sound vibrations studied, 176 
Herschel, William (Sir) 

birthplace at Hanover, 3 
Hertz, Heinrich 

electrical experiments, 255 
Hertzian waves (electricity), 255 

see^ von Hindenburg 
"His Master's Voice," 225 
Hoover, Herbert 

quoted on, radio, 269 
Horses of Hanover, 5 
Houston, David F., 49 
Howe, Elias 

sewing machine invented, 42 
Hubbard, Gardiner G., 61, 102 

letter to Berliner regarding his 
illness, 120, 122 

negotiations with Berliner, 104 
Hubbard, Mabel 

marriage to Bell, 56 
Hudson, John E., 

president, American Bell Tele- 
phone Company, 150 
Hughes, David Edward 

loose contacts studied by, 117 

Infant mortality 

Berliner's interest in, 234 
International Eucharistic Con- 
gress, 275 

first and second centuries of, 
42, 43 
Berliner's work on the micro- 
phonic principle, 75 
gramophone of Berliner, 168 



Inventions, con 't. 
micfoplione of Berliner 
caveat, 88, 97 
patent applicatioil, 97 
phonograph of Edison, 179 
telegraph of Morse, 42 
telephone of Bell, 44, 4(5, 51, 

55, 57 
transformer, continuous cur- 
rent, 101 
transmitter of Berliner, 82 

productive ages of, 69 
qualities essential, 287 

Johnson, Edward H., 

associated with Edison, 177 
Johnson, Eldridge K, 
gramophone, supplementary 

■U'ork on, 227-228 
president, Victor Talking Ma- 
chine Company, 222 
Johnston, Joseph E. (General) 
president of Pan-Electric Com- 
pany, 143 
Journal of the Telegraph, 71 

Kaempffert, Waldemar, 76 
quoted on, Berliner's gramo- 
phone, 201 
quoted on, radio, 256 
Kelvin, Lord 

see, Thomson, William (Sir) 
Kinnan, William A., 191 
Kober, George Martin, (Doctor), 
235, 291 
tribute to Berliner signed by, 
Krupp, Alfred 

steel exhibit in London, 2 

La Porte, Indiana 

early telephones in, 131 

Language, universal, 300 
Levy, Max, 199 
Library of Congress 

talking machine records kept 
by, 231 
Lightning rod invented, 42 
Lodge, Oliver (Sir), 253 
Loeb, Jacques (Professor), 239 
Lubin, Isadore, 236 
Luther, Martiu 

Tefuge in castle at Wartburg, 
Lyons, Joseph 

testimony regarding micro- 
phone, 92 

Magoffin, Ealph ^ (Professor), 

Magruder, G. L. (Doctor), 244 
Marconi, William 

inventor of radio, 256 

Berliner's views, 299 
Massachusetts General Hospital 

heart beats recorded, 305 
Massachusetts Institute of Tech- 

experimental work at, 130 
Maxwell, James Clerk, 298 

author of Electricity and Mag- 
netism, 254 
Maynard, George C, 70 

see also, Prizes 

Elliot Cressoii award to Ber- 
liner, 194 

Fischer, award to, 195 

Lord Raylcigh, award to, 195 

Steinmetz, award to, 195 
Medical science 

heart beats recorded, 305 



Mclvin, A. D. (Doctor), 2U 

as laboratory equipment, 252 
Berliner 's invention 
caveat, 166-167 

Bell system control of, 117 
filing of, 88, 97, 125 
text of, 309 
due credit accorded, 154 
patent application, 97 
patent received, 140 
Blake's design, 127 

paper in archives of Ameri- 
can Telephone and Tele- 
graph Company, 314 
loose contacts in connection 

•with, 87 

"push-pull" type, 253 
use in broadcasting, 251 
transformer combined ■with, 94 
Watson's examination of. 111 
Microphonic principle 

discovered by Berliner, 75, 80 
loose contacts explained, 86 
law passed by Congress, 249 
pasteurization of, 237 
relation to infant mortality, 

scalding, defined, 239 
Washington Post bulletin, 
Milk Dealers' and Producers' 

Associations, 240 
Miller, William H. H., 146 

secession policy, 13-14 
of Ericsson, 42 

Morse, Samuel F. B. (Professor) 
memorial services for, 99-100 
telegraph invented, 42 

Music, Scientific Side of 
by Berliner, 328 

Muzzey, David 

quoted on Grant 's characteris- 
tics, 24 

Napoleonic Wars, 4, 6 
National Republican 

account of Berliner 's inven- 
tion, 100 
National Tuberculosis Associa- 
Silver Trophy Cup awarded 
by, 247 
New York Oratorio Society 

founded by Damrosch, 218 
Norris, James L., 

patent attorney engaged by 
Berliner, 97 

Oppenheimer, Simon and Gustave 
called in defense of Bell-Ber- 
liner patents, 150 
Overland Company, 139 

Paine, Albert Bigelow 
author of, ''In One Man's 
Life," 123 
Pan-Electric Company 

organization and management, 
Paris Opera House 

talking machine records kept 
by, 232 
Pasteurization of milk 

advocated by Berliner, 237-238 

assailed, 143 




Bell-Berliner, eon't. 

Supreme Court deeision, 
validated by United States 
Supreme Court, 134 
Ben-Taiater graph oph one, ISl 
gramophone of Berliner 
application filed, 185 
" interf erenees, " 107 
microphone of Berliner 

eareat, 88, 97, 125, 166-167 
BeH system eontrol of, 117 
text of, 309 
jasaed, 1891, 140 
trangformcr, continuous cur- 
rent, 101 
transmitter, Edison 's appUca- 
tion for, 95 
Pershing, John J. (General) 

faretveU address to army, 264 

Centennial, 42 
deserfoed, 176 
invented by Leon Scott, 175 

see also, Dictaphone; Gramo- 
phone ; Graphophone ; 
Phonaatogia^; Talking 
Edison-Berliner " eompeti- 

tion" in Berlin, 206-211 
Edison 'e invention 

first maehinp made, 179 

dnring Grant's administration, 
Pollok, Anthony, 109 

foreign, in 1870, 23 

Preece, VTilliain (Sir), 255 

see also, Medals 
Silver Trophy Cup, in connec- 
tion -Kith pnbUe health 
work, 247 
Yolta award to Bell, 180 
Providence Hospital 

Berliner, a patient at, 119 
Public health 

Berliner 's participation in 
work, 234 
publications, 248, 250, 290, 
statistics, 241-242 
work in schools, 246 
Public ownership 

telephone systems in Great 
Britain and Europe, 48 
Pupin, Michael 

author of. From Immigrant to 
Inventor, 211 
Putnam, Herbert, 231 


and Bell telephone system, 48 
as harbinger of p:ace, 271 

Defense Day test in 1924, 

proper distance from micro- 
phone, 254 

stations, 260 

WJZ at New York, 268 
Dawes quoted, 306 
future predicted, 305 
Hoover quoted on, 269 
industry, 260 
Marconi, inventor, 256 
microphone use, 251 
modem practise, 257, 262 
national def emse through, 265 



Badio, con 't. 
outstandmg aetievement of, 

ship's use of, 261 
talViTig maeliiiies, us.e a:^e«toi 

bT, 221-222 
telephonic equipment, 9-i 
transatlantic messages, 262-263 
Taeutim tube invented, 253 
Badio Corporation of America 

teusatlantie station, 262 

Imiit im the early 'seTenties, 32 
Rathenan, Emil, 44 
Barleigh, Lord 

medal award to, 195 
Reis, Philip, 215 

telephone of, 53, 138 
Be public 

collision with Florida, 261 
Richards, Alvan S., 74, 150 
Biehards, W. L. 

assistant to Berliner, 130, 159, 
Bociefeller Instirute for Medical 

Besearch, 239 
Bogers, Agnes L. (Professor), 

Boman CathoUe Churches 

acoustic qualities inadequate, 
Boosevelt, Hilborne L., 104 

talking machine 

received bv singers, 227 

impracticable for telephone 

rweirers, 160 
use for gramophone disis, 
160. 200 
ynleanizatioB, 42 

Salt Lake City Taber: 
acoustic qualities, 2: 
San Francisco 


Sanders, Gerrrcie, 290 
Sanders, Thomas, 314 

influential in organizing Bell 
system, 102 
Sarah Berliner Beseareh Fellow- 
ship, 302, 304 
Saimoff , David 

general manager, Badio Cor- 
poration of America, 269 

telephone use xo, 46 

pubHe heahh work is, 246 
Sehroeder, Ernest Charles ^^Doc- 

tor), 242, 244, 291 
Schun, Carl, 13, 14 
ScMitsenfest celebrated at Han- 
over, 4 

general interest in, 45 
Seientinc Side of Mu»ie 

by Berliner, 32S 
Scott, Leon 

discoveries in registering of 

Boond, 175, 329 
phonautograph, 175 
Sholes, Christopher K, 

typewriter invented, 42 
Siemens and Halske, 163 
Siemeas-Halske eketrkal eon- 

eera, 203 
Siemens-Scliuckert electrical con- 
cern, 208 
Silver currency 
legislation agaisaf^ 3S 



Slosson, Edwin E. (Doctor), 206 
Smee cells, 70 
Smithsonian Institution 

exhibit of Berliner's work, 100 
Society for Prevention of Sick- 
ness, 238, 245 
Solomons, A. S., 99, 100, 120 
called in defense of Bell-Ber- 
liner patents, 150 

acoustic qualities of public 

buildings, 273 
microphonic action, 87 
produced by electric current, 

first discovery, 84 
reproduction in gramophone, 

see, Addresses of Berliner 

scientist in Great Britain, 77 
Squier, George Owen, 258 

Fulton's invention, 42 
Steinberg, Alfred J. (Doctor), 

Steinmetz, Charles Proteus 

medal award to, 195 
Sternberg, George M., 242, 324 
Storrow, James J., Sr., 69, 77 
defense of Bell patents, 130, 

patent lawyer and Bell Tele- 
phone Company counsel, 
77, 91 
quoted on, Berliner's caveat, 

91, 167 
quoted on, defense of Berlin- 
er's patent, 146 
Straus, Nathan 

pasteurized milk distributed 
by, 244 

Suess, Werner 

assistant to Berliner, 192 

first use, 102 

Tainter, Charles Sumner 

Bell-Tainter graphophone, 181 
Talking machines 

see also, Dictaphone; Gramo- 
phone ; Graphophone ; 
Phonautograph ; Phono- 
Edison-Berliner "competi- 

tion" in Berlin, 206-211 
first use of term, 178 
gramophone companies, 220- 

221, 223-224 
heart beats recorded, 305 
phonautograph of Scott, 175 
radio, effect on, 221-222 

countries using, 222-223 
files of, kept, 231, 232 
lateral cut disk, 227 
royalties received by opera 
singers, 227 
Technical Society of Frankfort- 
Berliner's speech, 215 

Morse's invention, 42 
transmission principle ex- 
plained to Berliner, 74 
Telephon-Fabrik J. Berliner, 164 
Bell's invention 

development of, 93, 102 
Berliner 's work, 52, 72 
Birth a7id Babyiwod of, 59 
Bourseuil's theory, 52 



Telephone, con 't. 

exhibited at Centennial Expo- 
sition, 61 

first message transmitted, 60- 

first public use of, by Em- 
peror of Brazil, 63 

first sound produced, 59 

introduction into Europe, 161 

invention of 

Alexander Graham Bell, 44, 
46, 51, 55, 57 

microphonic principle, 75 

national statistics of use of, 46 

recognition of worth, 62 

Eeis' work, 53 

transformers, continuous cur- 
rent, 96 

Transmetteur Berliner, 165 


Berliner's famous soap-box, 

Watson's work with Bell, 58 
Telephone Company of New York 

see also, Telephone systems. 

Berliner's correspondence with, 
103, 106 

Berliner's visit, 104 
"Telephone House" in Wash- 
ington, 72 
Telephone Society of Washing- 

Berliner's address, 69 
Telephone systems 

American Bell Telephone Com- 
Hudson, John E. president, 

American Speaking Telephone 
Company, 124 

Telephone systems, can't. 
American Telephone and Tele- 
graph Company, 49, 50 

Berliner's report of Blake 
transmitter, 129 

Defense Day test in 1924, 

presidents. Vail and Thayer, 

see also, Bell Telephone Com- 
pany of Boston; Tele- 
phone Company of New 

agreement with Western 
Union, 136 

Berliner 's affiliation with, 
113, 117 

Berliner, chief instrument 
inspector, 159 

"Big Four" of, 126 

Boston, the home of, 145 

capitalization increased, 304 

condition of, at beginning of 
Berliner 's service with, 

employee ownership, 49 

extent of, in 1926, 48 

growth and expansion, 105 

importance to, of Berliner's 
discoveries, 122 

organization, 102 

patent rights assailed, 143 
Supreme Court decision, 

patent rights offered to 
Western Union, 123 

stock affected by Berliner 
patent, 141, 144 

strong opposition encoun- 
tered, 133 



Telephone systems, con't. 
Chinese exchange in San Fran- 
cisco, 47 
first organization, 102 

first in, 165 

first in, 164 
Pan-Electric Company, 142 
People 's Telephone Company, 

public and private ownership, 

transatlantic service planned, 

Western Union 's competition, 
Thayer, H, B, 
president, American Telephone 
and Telegraph Company, 
Thomson, William (Sir) 
recognition of Bell's telephone, 
Thyssen, August, 272 
Tilden, Samuel J., 

presidency defeated, 82 

continuous current, 96 

patent issued, 101 
first use of, with microphone, 
Transmetteur Berliner, 165 

Berliner 's invention, 82 
Blake's design, 128 

paper in archives of Ameri- 
can Telephone and Tele- 
graph Company, 314 
perfected by Berliner, 129 
Edison applied for patent, 96, 

Trend of the times 

general interest in science, 45 

see, Prizes 

infirmary erected by Berliner, 
Tuberculosis Association at 

Washington, 242, 246 
Typewriter invented, 42 

United States Gramophone Com- 
pany, 221 

United States, Supreme Court 
decision in Bell-Berliner patent 
action, 151 

University of Berlin, 1 

Urso, Camilla, 220 

Vail, Theodore N., 108 

biography of, 123 

correspondence with Berliner, 

general manager of Bell sys- 
tem, 113, 127 

president, American Telephone 
and Telegraph Company, 

visits to Berliner in Providence 
Hospital, 120-121, 122 

radio equipment, 261-262 
Victor Talking Machine 

trade-mark, 229 
Victor Talking Machine Com- 

Camden plant described, 229- 

competition, 221 

outgrowth of Berliner Gramo- 
phone Company, 220, 221 



Victor Talking Machine Com- 
pany, con't. 
"Victrola Infringement," 220 
Victor Talking Machine Com- 
pany of Canada 
formerly, Berliner Gramophone 
Company, 223 


Berliner's studies of structure, 
Volta, Alessandro 

first electric cell made by, 180 
Volta Laboratory in Washington, 

Volta Prize 

awarded to A. G. Bell, 180 
von Bojanowski, 204 
Ton Biilow, Hans, 204 
Ton Bunsen, Eobert Wilhelm, 192 
von Helmholtz, Herman (Excel- 
lenz), 211 

gramophone demonstration be- 
fore, 212-215 
von Hindenburg, Paul 

birthplace at Hanover, 3 
von Pirquet, Professor, 244 
von Siemens, Werner (Doctor) 

quoted on, the gramophone, 208 

Wagner Theater, Bayreuth 
acoustic qualities, 284 


influence of chemistry, 206 


described, 183, 184 

during Grant's presidency, 23, 

first electric light, 70 
John Hay's description, 26 

Watson, Thomas A. 

Birth and Babyhood of tlie 

Telephone, 59 
examination of Berliner 's in- 
vention, 110 
work -with Bell, 58, 102 
Western Union Telegraph Com- 
agreement with Bell Telephone 

Company, 136 
American Speaking Telephone 
Company, a subsidiary, 
annexation of Bell system con- 
templated, 123 
Bell patent rights offered to, 

decision to enter telephone 

field, 115 
first electric journal published, 

Gold and Stock Telegraph 
Company, a subsidiary, 
130, 135 
Westinghouse Company 

radio station, 263 
Westinghouse, George 

air brake invented, 42 
Whitney, Eli 

cotton gin invented, 42 
Williams, Charles, 58 

manufacturer of telephone in- 
struments, 315 
WUliams Factory, Boston 

maker of telephone instru- 
ments, 155 
Wolfenbiittel, 8, 9, 288 

written by Berliner, 333 
Woodward, Doctor, 240, 241 
World War 

part played by music, 225-226 




? D 









1- o 











Wile, Frederic William, 1873-1941. 

Eralle Berliner, maker of the 
microphone, by Frederic William Wile* 
Indianapolis, The Bobbs— Merrill company 
[cl926 ] 

353 p* illuss 23 cm* 



07 NOV 77 

502012 NEDDbp 


s'g'ss's 00074929 8